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University of California. 


Class r x ^ k ^> 

Series II. Vol. IV, No. i. 




This Monograph has been approved by the Department of English 

in Columbia University as a contribution to knowledge worthy of 









Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements 

for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, in the 

Faculty of Philosophy, Columbia University 




U N i V e r. 


Copyright, 1908, 

Set up and electrotyped. Published July, 1908. 

XortoooD }3rrsa 

J. 3. Cushlng Co. —Berwick & Smith Co. 

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 


In preparing this essay I have, of course, obtained many sug- 
gestions from the well-known works of Collier, Fleay, and Ordish, 
and especially from Mr. Chambers' admirable Mediaeval Stage 
and Tudor Revels, which, in the portion of my field that they 
cover, have been of great use to me. So far as possible, I have 
based my work on the official documents of the time, in the form 
in which they appear in the authoritative governmental collec- 
tions, such as the Statutes of the Realm and the Acts of the Privy 
Council. But in many instances, of course, I have had to use 
transcripts and excerpts made by independent scholars. 

In the case of quotations of any considerable length, I have 
endeavored, so far as I could, to reproduce the spelling used in 
my source. I cannot pretend, however, that there is the slight- 
est consistency in the usage found in my various documents ; for 
the methods of transcribers vary greatly, — ranging from Mr. 
Kelly's apparently exact reproductions of the Leicester Records, 
showing every curl and abbreviation, to such forms as some of 
Collier's, which are quite modern in spelling save for the 
interjection of an occasional final e, and to the entirely modern- 
ized versions, such as Birch's Charters. From the point of view 
of my subject, fortunately, this matter is of small importance. 

All dates I have expressed in the new style, except in the case 
of direct quotations. In these few instances the reader should 
bear in mind that according to the old style the year began on 
March 25. 

I desire to acknowledge my indebtedness to Professor William 
Allan Neilson, of Harvard University, who first suggested to me 
an investigation into some of the social conditions surrounding 
the theaters of Shakspere's day, and to the inspiration of whose 
teaching I owe much. My thanks are due also to Professor 
William W. Lawrence, of Columbia University, for suggestions, 


and to Professor John W. Cunliffe, of the University of Wiscon- 
sin, for his kindness in assisting me to procure some material. 
I am chiefly indebted, however, to Professor Ashley H. Thorn- 
dike, of Columbia University, who has aided me with constant 
advice and kindly encouragement, and, from his wide and minute 
knowledge of the Elizabethan drama, has contributed to my 
essay many valuable suggestions. 

Columbia University, 
March, 1908. 



Introduction i 


I . National Regulation 4 

II. The Master of the Revels 44 

III. The Nature of the Censorship 89 

IV. Local Regulations in London, 1543-1592 . . . 137 
V. Local Regulations in London, 1 592-1 642 . . .178 

VI. The Puritan Victory 215 

Appendix — Royal Patents to Companies of Players . .231 

List of Books Cited 235 

Index 241 





The following study has grown out of an investigation into the 
conditions surrounding the Elizabethan theaters and the char- 
acteristics of the people who attended them. In endeavoring 
to secure some light on Shakspere's audience, I was led to 
investigate the standing of players and playhouses in the eyes 
of the law. Since the facts concerning the government regula- 
tion of the drama under the Tudors and the early Stuarts have 
apparently never been collected in complete and orderly form, — 
though they have been incidentally treated in various books, 
— it seemed to me worth while to attempt an account of the laws 
and regulations, national and local, which affected the drama 
during this important period of its history. 

The results of such an investigation have considerable his- 
torical and sociological interest. They illustrate the political 
and religious controversies following the Reformation, when the 
still primitive drama was a dangerous controversial weapon. 
They bring us into touch with the economic and social unrest in 
the days when multitudes of "rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy 
beggars" roamed through the country, and the memorable Poor 
Laws of Elizabeth made the first serious attempt to grapple 
with this problem, — laws which mentioned strolling "players 
in their interludes" among many other varieties of "masterless" 
vagabonds. We see, too, the economic system of monopolies, 
so widespread under Elizabeth and James, applied to the stage, 
in the granting to certain favored companies of players royal 
patents which gave them practically the exclusive right to per- 
form. From the point of view of constitutional history it is 
interesting to note the development of the Tudor and Stuart 
B l 

despotism, — the gradual extension of royal power and the 
overriding of the rights of local self-government ; so that finally, 
instead of regulation of plays by municipal and shire authorities, 
we find an officer of the King's household, the Master of the 
King's Revels, endowed with absolute licensing power over 
plays, players, and playhouses throughout the kingdom. . 

Of more concrete interest is the long controversy over plays 
in London, with edicts and counter-edicts from the royal Coun- 
cil and the municipal government. In miniature we see here 
the same conflict as in the civil war which was soon to come, — 
a spirit of Puritanism and love of civil liberty encountering the 
increasingly autocratic power of the royal government. This 
long controversy over the stage is supposed to have helped in- 
flame the Puritans with hatred of the Court and of royal despot- 
ism. They were forced to subside for a time, to submit to royal 
encroachment upon their liberties; but in 1642 and the years 
that followed they obtained their revenge upon players and Court 

In the course of the controversy we gain also an interesting 
glimpse of the illogical irregularities of the English governmental 
system, the complicated and confused organization which the 
government of London had gradually developed, with its uncer- 
tain jurisdiction, its privileged persons and places, its laws which 
might or might not be enforced, its strange relics of guild rights 
and ecclesiastical exemptions. 

From the literary point of view such a study of laws and ordi- 
nances is of course valuable only in so far as it throws light on 
the history of the stage during this golden age. Patents and 
laws regulating the licensing of plays may be dull reading in 
themselves, but it is interesting to watch the pen of the censor 
rigorously expurgating pages of the plays submitted to him, and 
to speculate on the different lines the drama might have followed 
had it been free to treat all subjects at will. By far the most 
striking aspect of the study, however, is the acquaintance it gives 
us with the actual conditions surrounding the theaters of Shak- 
spere's day, when the Lord Mayor endeavored to suppress them 
as resorts where the "basest sort of people" rioted and plotted 
" most ungodly conspiracies," and as abominations which drew 

down upon the city the wrath of God. Through the maze of 
conflicting regulations and protesting letters one can catch vivid 
glimpses of that strange audience for whom Shakspere wrote, 
— ranging from the noblemen of the Essex conspiracy, who met 
at the Globe, including the brilliant figure of the young Earl 
of Southampton, a daily frequenter of the playhouses, down to 
the rabble of apprentices, vagabonds, and cutpurses who rioted 
in the pit, to the scandal of all peaceful citizens. 

In the essay which follows I have partially abandoned the 
usual chronological plan, in order to obtain a clearer and more 
unified view of the development of the different aspects of legis- 
lation and regulation. I shall deal first with the general regu- 
lation of the drama by the central government, through parlia- 
mentary statutes, royal proclamations, council orders, and 
patents, applying to the country at large. This includes the 
laws and patents concerning the status of players and the licens- 
ing of them, the licensing of playhouses, and, in general outline, 
the development of the power of censorship. The succeeding 
section traces the rise of the Master of the Revels from mere 
manager of court entertainments to regulator of the drama 
throughout the kingdom, the growth and exercise of his very 
extensive powers of licensing players, playhouses, and plays. 
Following this is a fairly minute study of the nature of that cen- 
sorship of which the Master was the official administrator, as it 
appears in the expurgations he made, and in the cases when 
players or playwrights were disciplined for indiscretions. The 
next two chapters give a somewhat detailed account of the local 
regulations in London, especially of the long and bitter strife 
between a municipal government trying to keep plays out of the 
city and royal authority endeavoring to have them admitted. 
With details of dramatic regulation in other parts of England 
I have not attempted to deal. The period is finally and defi- 
nitely closed by the victory of the Puritan movement. This had 
caused bitter attacks on the stage during most of the Elizabethan 
era, and it culminated at last in the Ordinances of the Long 
Parliament in 1642, 1647, and 1648, prohibiting all theatrical 
performances whatsoever. 

National Regulation 

Before investigating the more interesting details of adminis- 
trative history in London during the golden years of the Eliza- 
bethan age, it is essential to survey the general regulation of the 
drama by the national government throughout our period, until 
1642; that is, to consider such statutes, orders, proclamations, 
and patents as emanated from royal and parliamentary authority 
and applied to the kingdom at large. It is convenient to con- 
sider such legislation under three general heads, as it concerned 
itself with the licensing of plays, the licensing of players, or the 
licensing of playing places. The licensing of plays was the 
first to receive serious consideration from the government, and 
may conveniently be treated first. 

The licensing of plays evidently involved two questions, — 
when they should be allowed, and what they should contain. 
Sometimes they were suppressed altogether; sometimes merely 
their content was restricted, — they were censored. The 
exercise of the censorship in London under Elizabeth and the 
early Stuarts will be treated in detail in a later chapter. We 
have here to consider the general history of the censoring power 
from the beginning of the Tudor period until the Civil War. 

When Henry VII ascended the throne in 1485, the drama 
was already flourishing in England. Mysteries were being 
performed in many towns and parishes, and moralities were 
common. Noblemen kept among their retainers companies 
of professional players, and the King himself had a company 
in his household. 1 But in spite of all this dramatic activity, 
apparently no necessity for governmental censorship was yet 
felt. The regulation of plays seems to have been attended to 

1 Sec below, pp. 22-23. 

satisfactorily enough by the local civil and ecclesiastical authori- 
ties. Not until the troubles of the Reformation and the policies 
of Henry VIII began to arouse a spirit of revolt among the 
people, did the royal government feel that there was anything to 
fear from the content of plays. Then it became evident that 
the religious nature of the drama at this time, coupled with 
the religious nature of the questions in dispute, made the stage 
a peculiarly dangerous weapon. 

According to most stage historians, a proclamation in 1533 V 
attempted to regulate the content of plays. It forbade, we are 
told, all evil-disposed persons to preach, either in public or pri- 
vate, "after their own brains, and by playing of interludes and 
printing of false, fond books, ballads, rhymes, and other lewd 
treatises in the English tongue, concerning doctrines in matters 
now in question and controversy." . Were this authentic, it 
would be the earliest formal pronouncement concerning censor- 
ship. But no such edicl was issued in 1533. This proclama- 
tion, as may be seen by a comparison of the phrasing, was that 
promulgated by Queen Mary on August 18, 1553. 1 Warton, 
in his History of English Poetry, 2 by a slip, mentioned the 
document as having been issued in 1533, describing it as I have 
quoted above and citing Foxe's Martyrologie as his authority. 
But Foxe mentions no such edict in 1533. He does, however, 
on the page referred to by Warton, 3 give at length Mary's proc- 
lamation of 1553. Historians of the stage, following Warton's 
statement, have continued this error. 4 

Though no formal censoring regulation of this sort was made 
at this early date, the drama was already being used for con- 
troversial purposes. Even in 1526 Wolsey had felt obliged to 
defend himself against the political attacks of a play at Gray's 
Inn, John Roo's morality of Lord Govemaunce and Lady 
Publike-Wele. 5 In the religious controversy it is interesting to 
note how, under royal sanction, the stage was being employed 
as a weapon on both sides, as the policy of the Crown changed. 

1 See below, p. 10. 

5 1824 edition, III, 428. 

3 Martyrologie (1576 edition), 1339. 

* Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 119; Chambers, Mediaeval Stage, II, 220. 

* Chambers, op. cit., II, 192, 219. 


The royal Defender of the Faith smiled at first on dramas in 
support of the Papacy. In 1527 there is record of a play by 
the St. Paul's boys before ambassadors from France, on the 
captivity of the Pope, in which the "herretyke Lewtar" was a 
character; and in 1528 comedies were acted before Wolsey 
on the release of the Pope, — also orthodox, no doubt. 1 But in 
1533, the year of Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn, we note 
a change. A comedy was acted at Court in that year "to the 
no little defamation of certain cardinals"; 2 and in 1537 much 
offense was given to Bishop Gardiner, the Chancellor of Cam- 
bridge University, by the performance at Christ's College of 
a "tragedie," part of which was "soo pestiferous as were in- 
tolerable" — no less a play than the famous anti-papal Pam- 
machius itself. 3 The high officials of church and state now seem 
to have encouraged the use of interludes to spread the Protes- 
tant doctrine. There is evidence that Cromwell, especially, 
found the stage a convenient weapon in the Protestant cause; 4 
and Cranmer was apparently in sympathy with this policy, for 
in 1539 there was an interlude at his house which a Protestant 
described as "one of the best matiers that ever he sawe touching 
King John," and which may have been John Bale's famous play. 5 
When thus used to support views favored by the Crown, the 
controversial drama was graciously approved. But as the spirit 
of revolt spread through the country, the government discovered 
that plays could be used also as a weapon of attack by the oppo- 
nents of the royal policy. In 1537 it was found necessary to 
prohibit games and unlawful assemblies in Suffolk, on account 
of a "seditious May-game," which was "of a king, how he should 
rule his realm," and in which "one played Husbandry, and said 
many things against gentlemen more than was in the book of 
the play." 8 A more serious case of seditious use of the drama 
occurred in York about the same time (the exact date is unknown). 
We learn of it from a letter written by Henry VIII to some Jus- 
tice of the Peace in York, 7 regarding the "late evil and seditious 

'Chambers, Mediaval Stage, II, 2x9-220. ' Ibid., II, 220. s Ibid. 

* Ibid. » Ibid., 221. c Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, XII, 557, 585. 
7 Printed in a translation from the original Latin in Halliwell-Phillipps, 
Letters 0/ the Kings 0/ England, I, 354. 

rising" in that city at the performance of a " religious interlude 
of St. Thomas the Apostle." The King has been informed that 
the disorder was due to the seditious conduct of certain papists 
who took part in preparing for the interlude, and he exhorts 
the Justice to prevent any such commotion in future, and gives 
him authority to arrest and imprison "any papists who shall, in 
performing interludes which are founded on any portions of the 
Old or New Testament, say or make use of any language which 
may tend to excite those who are beholding the same to any 
breach of the peace." 

The passage, in 1539, of the Act abolishing Diversity in 
Opinions, which reasserted the doctrine of transubstantiation, 
communion in one kind, the celibacy of the clergy, monastic 
vows, private masses, and auricular confession, marked Henry's 
reaction against Protestantism, and was followed by persecution 
of the unorthodox. One Spencer, an ex-priest who had become 
an interlude-player, was burned at Salisbury for "matter con- 
cerning the sacrament of the altar"; 1 and in London a man 
was " presented for procuring an interlude to be openly played, 
wherein priests were railed on and called knaves." 2 

Such cases as these led to the first legislation concerning the 
content of plays, — an important step in the history of govern- 
mental censorship. (This was the Statute 34 and 35 Henry 
VIII, cap. 1, passea in 1543, and entitled "An act for the ad- 
vancement of true religion and for the abolishment of the con- 
trary." 3 With the drama it deals only incidentally. It con- 
demns Tyndale's translation of the Bible and other unorthodox 
writings, and orders the suppression of anything conflicting with 
the doctrines authorized by the King. Seditious people, the act 
states, have tried to subvert the true doctrine not only by sermons, 
"but allso by prynted bokes, prynted^balades, jplayes, rymes, 
songes, and other fantasies." Any of these conflicting with the 
authorized religion are to be "abolished, extinguished, and for- 
bidden." j But the act shows no trace of the later Puritan dis- 
approvatof plays as such ; seditious matter in them it condemns, 
but their use for proper ends it expressly approves. ( It provides 

1 Chambers, Medieval Stage, II, 221. * Ibid. 

3 Statutes of the Realm, III, 894. 


that "it shalbe lawfull to all and everye prsone and prsones, to 
sette foorth songes, plaies and enterludes, to be used and exer- 
cysed within this Realme and other the kinges Domynions, for 
the rebuking and reproching of vices and the setting foorth of 
vertue : so allwaies the saide songes, playes or enterludes med- 
dle not with interpretacions of Scripture, contrarye to the doc- 
tryne set foorth or to be sett foorth by the Kinges Majestic '} 

Any one accused of spreading unorthodox views in such ways 
is to be tried before any two of the King's Council or the Ordi- 
nary of the diocese (i.e. the bishop sitting in ecclesiastical court), 
and two Justices of the Peace of the same shire where the Or- 
dinary sits, or before any other person especially appointed for 
the purpose. Such censorship as there was, was therefore in 
the hands of these officials. 

With the accession of Edward VI, in 1547, royal approval 
turned again to extreme Protestantism. But during this reign 
there was, nevertheless, much difficulty in keeping plays within 
proper bounds. We find at the very outset that the actors were 
not held in good discipline. On February 5, 1547, the Bishop 
of Winchester wrote to the Lord Protector, requesting his inter- 
ference to thwart the Southwark players' project for a "solemn 
play" during his memorial services for the late King, "to trye 
who shall have most resorte, they in game, or I in ernest." x 
Protestant dramas were now written and encouraged by those 
high in authority. Edward VI, according to Bale, wrote a 
comedy De Meretrice Babylonica, John Foxe, the martyrologist, 
a Christus Triumphans, and Bale himself was of course the 
chief Protestant writer of controversial plays. 2 In 1551 the 
English comedies "in demonstration of contempt for the Pope" 
were reported by the Venetian Ambassador to his government. 3 
- It was now the Catholic interludes which needed suppression ; 
and so serious was the danger of sedition from this source, that 
on August 6, 1549, there was issued a royal proclamation pro- 
hibiting English plays altogether for the next three months. 
"For asmuche as a greate number of those that be common 

1 Stale Papers, Dom., 1547-1580, 1. 

2 For details, sec Chambers, op. cit., II, 217-218, 223-224. 
' Ibid., II, 222-223. 


Plaicrs of Enterludes and Plaics," the edict recites, "as well 
within the citie of London, as els where within the realme, do 
for the moste pari plaie suche Interludes' as contain matter 
tendyng to sedicion and contempnyng of sundcry good orders 
and lawes, where upon are growen, and daily are like to growe 
and ensue, muche disquiet, division, tumultes, and uproares in 
this realme; the Kynges Maiestie . . . straightly chargeth and 
commaundeth al and every his Maiesties subjectes . . . that 
from the ix day of this present moneth of August untill the feast 
of all Sainctes ncxte comming, thei ne any of them, openly or 
secretly plaie in the English tongue any kynde of Interlude, 
Plaie, Dialogue or other matter set furthe in forme of Plaie in 
any place publique or private within this realme, upon pain that 
whosoever shall plaie in Englishe any such Play, Interlude, or 
other matter, shall suffre imprisonment, and further punishment 
at the pleasure of his Maiestie." ! — " 

The Act of Uniformity, passed by Parliament in the same 
year, 1549 (2 and 3 Edward VI, cap. 1), forbade interludes con- 
taining anything ''depraving and despising" the Book of Com- 
mon Prayer. 2 

Serious trouble with the drama evidently continued, for on 
April 28, 1 55 1, another royal proclamation dealt with plays, and 
made the first attempt to establish a definite system of censor- 
ship. The avowed purpose of the edict is the "reformacion 
of Vagabondes, tellers of newes, sowers of seditious rumours, 
players, and printers without license & divers other disordred 
persons." It inveighs at length against sedition, unfaithfulness 
to the true religion, and lawbrcaking, and commands magis- 
trates to enforce the statutes. Devisers of rumors and tales 
touching his Majesty are to be punished. No one is to print, 
sell, or distribute anything in English without the written per- 
mission of the King or the Privy Council, on pain of imprison- 
ment and fine. Finally, a regulation similar to this one 
concerning the licensing of printing, is made concerning the cen- 
soring of plays : V Xor that any common players or other persons, 
vpon like paines, to play in thenglish tong, any maner Enter- 
lude, play or mattre, without they have special licence to shew 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, 8. 2 Statutes of the Realm, IV, pt. i, 38. 


for the same in writing vnder his maiesties signe, or signed by 
.vi. of his highnes priuie counsaill." ' J 

It was impossible, of course, for the Privy Council to exercise 
this censorship with any thoroughness throughout the kingdom ; 
but in some cases they certainly acted. In June, 1551, for ex- 
ample, the Council apparently considered that even noblemen's 
players should not perform before their masters without special 
leave, for they granted the Marquis of Dorset permission to 
have his players play "only in his lordship's presence." 2 And 
in June, 1552, it appears that they had ordered a "cowper" 
shut up in the Tower "for the making of plays." 3 

With Mary's accession, in 1553, the pendulum swung again. 
At the very commencement of her reign a morality called Res- 
publica was represented at Court, which was bitterly anti-Protes- 
tant in sentiment, and introduced the Queen herself in the char- 
acter of Nemesis. 4 On the occasion, also, of her marriage with 
Philip, there were Catholic interludes and pageants. 5 Her 
realization of the danger from the use of the same weapon by 
her enemies to stir up Protestant revolt is shown in the long and 
interesting proclamation of August 18, 1553. 6 This declares 
that the Queen favors the Roman Catholic doctrine, but that 
she will not at present compel her subjects to accept it. She 
commands them, however, not to stir up any sedition or any 
disputes about these matters. Among methods of arousing 
revolt printing and playing again appear prominently. 

" And furthermore, forasmuche also as it is well knowen, that sedi- 
tion and false rumours haue bene nouryshed and maynteyned in this 
realme, by the subteltye and malyce of some euell disposed persons, whiche 
take vpon them withoute sufficient auctoritie, to preache, and to inter- 
prete the worde of God, after theyr owne brayne, in churches and other 
places, both publique and pryuate. And also by playinge of Inter- 
ludes and pryntynge false fonde bookes, ballettes, rymes, and other lewde 
treatises in the englyshe tonge, concernynge doctryne in matters now in 
question and controuersye, touchinge the hyghe poyntes and misteries 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, O-14. 

2 Acts of the Privy Council, III, 307. s Ibid., IV, 73. 

* Printed in Brandl, Quellen des weltlkhen Dramas in England. 
1 Chambers, Mediaeval Stage, II, 223. 

• Printed in full in Hazlitt, English Drama, 15-18. 


of christen religion. . . . Her highnes therfore strayghtly chargeth and 
commaundeth all and every her sayde subiectes . . . that none of them 
presume from henceforth to preache . . . or to interprete or teache any 
scriptures, or any maner poyntes of doctryne concernynge religion. 
Neythcr also to prynte any bookes, matter, ballet, ryme, interlude, 
processe or treatyse, nor to playe any interlude, except they haue her 
graces speciall licence in writynge for the same, vpon payne to incurre 
her highnesse indignation and displeasure." 

In this provision for royal license and censorship no express 
mention is made, as in Edward's proclamation of 1551, of the 
license by six of the Privy Council as alternative to the royal 
permission. But it was evidently through the Council that the 
royal authority was exercised. In spite of the proclamation, 
troubles with plays were frequent, and we find the Council vigi- 
lantly interfering in various parts of the country. In 1556 and 
1557 the difficulties seem to have grown acute. On February 
14, 1556, the Privy Council ordered Lord Rich, the Lord Lieu- 
tenant of Essex, to stop and investigate a play about to be given 
in that county, and report to the Council. 1 In the following 
April they directed the Lord President of the North to suppress 
a company of players who had "wandered abowt the North 
partes, and represented certaine playes and enterludes, conteyn- 
ing very naughty and seditious matter touching the King and 
Quene's Ma u and the state of the realme, and to the slaunder 
of Christe's true and Catholik religion, contrary to all good ordre, 
and to the manifest contempt of Allmighty God, and daungerous 
example of others." The Council directed the Lord President 
of the North to give orders to all the Justices of the Peace within 
his rule that "they doo in no wyse suffer any playes, enterludes, 
songues, or any suche lyke pastymes whereby the people may 
any wayes be steryd to disordre, to be used by any manner 
p'sonnes, or under any coulour or pretence." 2 It is evident from 
this that, in spite of the proclamation limiting the licensing 
power to the Crown, the actual exercise of censorship, the re- 
sponsibility of determining whether any play contained seditious 

1 Acts of the Privy Council, V, 234, 237. 

1 Letter printed in Lodge, Illustrations, I, 212-213. 


or heretical matter, rested with the Justices of the Peace and 
other local officials. 

In May there is another mention of an order "against players 
and pipers strolling through the kingdom, disseminating sedition 
and heresies." l In June of the following year, 1557, the Council 
ordered the Mayor of London to arrest players who had been 
giving "naughty plays," and to permit no play henceforth within 
the City "except the same be first seen and allowed" 2 — pre- 
sumably by the municipal officials. In the same month the 
Mayor of Canterbury arrested some actors and sent their "lewd 
play-book" to the Council for its consideration. 3 The boldness 
of the players apparently became so great that the Council de- 
cided to forbid all plays during the summer. Orders to this 
effect were sent to the Justices of the Peace of every shire, 4 
but the enforcement of the rule was difficult. The Council 
reprimanded the Justices of Essex, because of their laxness in 
this duty ; 5 in September it directed the Mayor of London to 
prevent the performance of another "lewd play," called a 
"Sacke full of Newes," at the Boar's Head without Aldgate, to 
arrest the players, and to send their playbook to the Council. 6 
On due consideration the Lords evidently decided that the 
" Sacke full of Newes" was harmless, for the next day they bade 
the Mayor release the players. 7 

At the same time they directed him to charge the actors 
throughout the city "not to play any plays, but between the 
feasts of All Saints 8 and Shrovetide, and then only such as are 
seen and allowed by the Ordinary," 9 —that is, by the Bishop of 
London sitting in ecclesiastical court. This appears to be the 
first formal delegation by the Crown and Privy Council of the 
power of licensing plays, though, as we have seen, in practice 
such power had been exercised before by local officials. In 
view of the religious nature of the plays and of the matters in 
dispute, it was natural that the Bishop should be chosen for this 
duty in London. As we have found, the Ordinary had before 

1 State Papers, Dom., 1547-1580, 82. 

2 Acts, VI, 102. 5 Ibid., 119. 8 November 1. 

3 Ibid., no, 148. 6 Ibid., 168. 9 Acts, VI, 169. 
*Ibid., 118-119. 7 Ibid., 169. 


this possessed a somewhat similar jurisdiction. 1 Concerning 
the Bishop of London's administration of this power, we have 
no definite information. In later years, as we shall see, he and 
the Archbishop of Canterbury sometimes interfered again in 
dramatic affairs in London. 

In tracing the history of the censorship we have now reached 
the opening of Elizabeth's reign. Hitherto, as we have seen, 
such scanty and vague legislation as there was concerning the 
licensing of plays had reserved this power to the Crown and the 
Priw Council, except for some authority granted to the Ordinary. 
In practice, however, it is evident that the Council did not ex- 
pect this rule to be followed. It was obviously impossible for 
them to overlook beforehand and license plays throughout the 
kingdom. There was no definite system of licensing, but they 
apparently expected the local officials, — the Lord Lieutenants 
and the Justices of the Peace in the shires, and in the towns the 
Mayors. — to exercise supervision. The Council reserved, of 
course, supreme authority, and in cases of flagrant impropriety 
they interfered, through the local officials, and sometimes called 
for the book of the play, to see how serious the matter was. 
We shall find that during the early years of Elizabeth's reign 
practically the same system was in force, though it was now 
formulated more definitely. 

In summing up this early period we should notice also that 
the censorship and licensing apparently applied to both public 
and private performances; that it sometimes, however, dealt 
only with those in English, not with Latin plays ; and that the 
censoring was concerned with suppressing sedition and heresy, 
— anything likely to stir up political revolt, — and not with 
matters of decency and morality. 

The opening of Elizabeth's reign reveals a situation in the 
dramatic world not unlike that which confronted her prede- 
cessors. Moderate Protestantism was now again in the ascen- 
dant, and steps were taken to prevent danger of sedition from 
Catholic or other unorthodox plays. The Act of Uniformity, 
in 1559 (1 Elizabeth, cap. 2), reenacted the provision of 2 and 3 
Edward VI, cap. 1, against "depraving or despising" the Book 

1 See above, p. 8. 


of Common Prayer in interludes. 1 In April, 1559, Elizabeth 
found it necessary to adopt the precaution used at times by her 
predecessors, — that of prohibiting plays altogether for a season. 
As in the past, it was felt that summer was the time of greatest 
danger from the controversial drama. This first proclamation 
of Elizabeth therefore inhibited all plays and interludes until 
the following November. So, at least, Holinshed informs us, 
and he refers to this proclamation as having been issued "at the 
same time" as another which he has just been telling us was 
made on April 7. 2 As we find no other reference to this April 
proclamation on the drama, and as Holinshed does not mention 
Elizabeth's second edict on the subject, in the following month, 
it may be that he is here referring rather inaccurately to this 
edict of May 16, generally called by stage historians Elizabeth's 
second proclamation concerning plays. 

It is certain, at all events, that on May 16, 1559, the Queen 
issued an important proclamation 3 which explicitly established 
a more definite system of licensing plays than had previously 
existed, though it was really little more than a codification of 
the practice hitherto in use, — supervision by the municipal 
officers in towns and by Lord Lieutenants and Justices of the 
Peace in shires. "Forasmuche as the tyme wherein common 
Interludes in the Englishe tongue are wont vsually to be played, 
is now past vntyll All Halloutyde," the proclamation recites, 
"and that also some that haue ben of late vsed, are not conuen- 
ient in any good ordred Christian Common weale to be suft'red. 
The Quenes Maiestie doth straightly forbyd al maner Interludes 
to be playde, eyther openly or priuately, except the same be 
noticed before hande, and licenced within any citie or towne 
corporate by the Maior or other chiefe officers of the same, and 
within any shyre, by suche as shalbe Lieuetenaunts for the 
Queenes Maiestie in the same shyre, or by two of the Justices 
of peax inhabyting within that part of the shire where any shalbe 
» Then follow instructions to guide the officials in their censoring, 

1 Statutes, IV, pt. i, 356. And see above, p. 9. 

2 Holinshed, Chronicles (1586-1587 edition), III, 1184. 

3 Printed in full in Hazlitt, English Drama, 19-20. 


and these show in an interesting way the establishment of the 
conciliatory policy followed, in the main, during all of Eliza- 
beth's reign, — that of removing the drama altogether from the 
field of political and religious controversy. "And for instruc- 
tion to cucry of the sayde officers, her maiestie doth likewise 
charge euery of them as they will aunswere :(that they permyt 
none to be played, wherin either matters of religion or of the 
governance of the estate of the commo weale shalbe handled, 
or treated; beyng no meete matters to be wrytten or treated 
vpon, but by menne of aucthoritie, learning, and wisedome, 
nor to be handled before any audience but of graue and dis- 
creete persons. '1 

If any shalfat tempt to disobey this edict, the officials are 
ordered to arrest and imprison the persons so offending for 
fourteen days or more, as the case shall warrant, and until 
they give surety that they will be of good behavior in the future. 

This system of censorship by local authorities continued in 
force undisputed for some fifteen years, nor was it, indeed, ever 
entirely superseded. We should not imagine, however, that it 
was ever very rigorously carried out, and that every play was 
carefully "seen and allowed" before presentation. There 
must have been great laxness in the administration. Royal / 
authority was still, of course, supreme, ancL_directly or through 
the Prrry^ouncilT^rrntervened at will to permit favored plays 
or to suppress and punish peculiarly flagrant impropriety in 
dramatic handling of political affairs. 

An example of the working of the system is to be seen in a 
letter of June, 1559, to the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord President 
of the North, from Sir Robert Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leices- 
ter, on behalf of his servants, players of interludes. They have 
received, he says, license for their interludes in various shires 
from the Lord Lieutenants, and he begs that they may be simi- 
larly favored for Yorkshire by Lord Shrewsbury. They are 
" honest men," he assures the Earl, " and suche as shall plaienone 
other matters, I trust, but tollerable and convenient." ' 
/The administration of the system in towns is strikingly 
exemplified in the Order of the London Common Council, of 

1 Lodge, Illustrations, I, 307. 



December 6, 1574, 1 which we shall consider at length in a later 
chapter. In the matter of censorship this provides that, before 
presentation,yplays must be perused and permitted by the persons 
appointed for that purpose by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen ; 
and the utterance of unchastity or sedition at performances is 
to be punished by a fine and the fourteen days' imprisonment 
specified by the proclamation of 1559. "}Yery striking is the 
emphasis laid upon the necessity of censoring "unchaste, un- 
comely, and unshamefaced speeches," — a Puritan care for 
morality in contrast with the purely political attitude of the 
J governmental declarations which we have hitherto considered, 

concerned, as they were, solely with the suppression of matter 
tending to sedition. 

A few months before this order of the London authorities, the 
first definite step had been taken towards the establishment of 
a licensing power which was eventually to supersede that of 
town and shire officials. The Master of the Revels will be 
treated in detail in the following chapter; it is here necessary 
only to survey very briefly his place in the general history of the 
censorship. An official of the King's household, subordinate to 
the Lord Chamberlain, he was originally concerned only with the 
management of court entertainments. In the performance of this 
duty he naturally overlooked beforehand and expurgated, if need 
be, plays which were to be performed at Court. The first sign of 
the extension of this power to outside performances is found in 
the royal patent to Leicester's players issued on May 7, 1574, 2 
i which granted them the privilege of performing throughout the 
kingdom, provided that their plays "be by the Master of our 
Revels (for the time being) before seen and allowed." The 
authority here given over one company was immensely extended 
by a patent to the Master in 1581, 3 which, among other powers, 
authorized him to "warne, comaunde and appointe in all places 
<> within this our Realme of England, as well within Francheses 
and Liberties as without, all and ev'ry plaier or plaiers, with 
their playmakers, either belonginge to any Noble Man or other- 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, 27-31. See below, pp. 156 ff. 

2 Ibid., 25—26. Sec below, pp. 33—34. 

3 Shakspere Society Papers, III, 1 17. See below, p. 51. 


wise bearinge the Name or Names or usingc the Facultie of 
Pla\ makers or Plaiers of Comedies, Trajedies, Enterludes, or 
what other Showes soever, from tyme to tyme and at all tymes 
to appeare before him, with all suche IMaies, Tragedies, Comedies 
or Showes as they shall have in readiness, or mcanc to set forth, 
and them to presente and reeite before our said Servant or his 
sufficient Deputie, whom we ordeyne, appointe and authorise 
bv these presentes of all suche Showes, Plaies, Plaiers and Play- 
makers, together with their playinge places, to order and 
reforme, auctorise and put downe, as shalbe thought meete or 
unmeete unto himself or his said Deputie in that behalfe." 

The first part of this passage may refer merely to his selection 
of plays for court performance, but it could be stretched to other 
purposes. The latter part certainly confers on him very ex- 
tensive, if rather vague, powers over all the drama. Since the 
licensing of plays was a profitable business, it was to the interest 
of the Master to develop this authority as extensively as possible. 
This he began straightway to do ; but it would be folly to sup- 
pose that this patent created at once any revolution in the censor- 
ing of the drama. It was years before the Master's licensing 
authority was thoroughly established in and about London. It 
could never have been thoroughly established throughout the 
rest of the kingdom. But it grew steadily during all our period. 

The London officials continued for some time to exercise 
censoring power; but the system outlined in the Common 
Council Order of 1574 was apparently not carried out very con- 
sistently. In 1582, when the Privy Council was requesting 
that plays be allowed in ~London7~iTsuggested that the City 
should "appoint some proper person to consider and allow such 
plays only as were fitted to yield honest recreation and no ex- 
ample of evil." 1 The Mayor replied that this suggestion would 
be carried out, and that "some grave and discreet person" 
would be appointed to peruse the plays. 2 

When the Martin Marprelate Controversy was raging in 1589, 
some of the players ridiculed the Martinists on the stage. 
Though the persons attacked were the adversaries of the Estab- 
lished Church, the government, in pursuance of its policy of al- 

1 Acts, XIII, 404. 2 Remcmbruiicia, 351. 



lowing no matters of "divinity and state" to be agitated upon the 
stage, took rigorous steps to suppress all offensive plays. For 
more effective censorship in this emergency, the Privy Council 
devised a commission representing the three powers which had 
been recognized as possessing authority over the drama, — the 
Church, the City, and the Crown. The Council requested the 
Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint "some fit person well 
learned in Divinity," and the Mayor to choose " a sufficient per- 
son learned and of judgment." These two were to act with 
the Master of the Revels, the representative of the Crown, in 
examining all plays to be publicly presented in and about Lon- 
don, and striking out and reforming "such parts and matters 
as they shall find unfit and undecent to be handled in plays, 
both for Divinity and State." x 

There is no further record of this commission. Whether 
it was ever appointed and ever acted, we do not know. The 
episode is interesting and illuminating, however, as showing 
the conception of the power of censorship in 1589, and the 
( gradual progress of the Master of the Revels towards exclu- 
sive licensing power. In 1592, the city authorities refer to 
his supreme power of licensing plays in and about London, 2 
but he does not seem to have established this firmly and per- 
manently until the beginning of the seventeenth century. He 
appears but dimly in the agitation of the years 1 600-1601, when 
the Privy Council was trying to restrain "the immoderate use 
and company of Playhouses and Players" in and about 
London, and sent urgent orders to the Lord Mayor and to the 
Justices of the Peace of Middlesex and Surrey. 3 In May, 1601, 
when the Council was displeased by the content of a play at 
the Curtain, it wrote to the Justices of Middlesex as those 
having power of censorship, and directed them in the exercise 
of this. 4 

But by the accession of James I the Master was fairly well 

\ established as censor of plays in and about London. As we 

shall see, he performed this duty rigorously and profitably under 

1 Acts, XVIII, 214-216; Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 268-269, note. 

2 Remembrancia, 352-353. 

3 See below, pp. 190 ff. * See below, p. 100. 


the Stuart rule. A slight invasion of his prerogatives is found 
in January, 1604, when the royal patent to the Children of the 
Queen's Revels provided that Samuel Daniel should approve 
and allow all plays to be performed, before the Queen or pub- 
licly, by this company. 1 The city authorities seem to have made 
no further claim to licensing plays. The church only occa- 
sionally interfered. In 1619, for example, the Bishop of Lon- 
don exercised the right once granted him, by forbidding the 
production of Barnevelt. 2 The Crown and the Privy Council, — 
still reserving supreme power, of course, — frequently inter- 
vened, as we shall see, through the Master or over his head, to 
protest against unfit matter in plays or to suppress them alto- 
gether at times, as during the plague, in Lent, or on Sundays. 
The Lord Chamberlain, as the immediate superior of the Master, 
also claimed especial authority over the drama, and towards the 
end of the period he frequently acted directly in cases of trouble. 
Thus the hierarchy of dramatic rulers ran, — King, Privy 
Council, Lord Chamberlain, Master of the Revels ; and all the 
higher powers interfered at will, though for the most part they 
left the exercise of authority to the Master, the servant of the 

There remains to be considered in this connection some gen- 
eral legislation affecting the licensing of plays, — their content 
or their entire suppression at times. The Puritans had a ma- 
jority in James' first Parliament, and this domination continued. 
Its influence now appears in legislation. ( In May, 1606, an 
act was passed "for the preventing and avoiding of the great 
abuse of the Holy Name of God in Stage playes, Interludes, , 
Maygames, Shows and such like." If any person shall, in such J 
performances, "jestingly or prophanely speak or use the Holy 
Name of God or of Christ Jesus, or of the Holy Ghost or of the 
Trinity, which are not to be spoken but with fear and reverence," 

1 Patent in Hazlitt, English Drama, 40-41. 

2 State Papers, Dom., 1619-1623, 71. Mr. Fleay (London Stage, 266), con- 
sidering the intervention of the Bishop a "remarkable innovation in stage his- 
tory," thinks the mention of him a mistake, the Lord Mayor being the person 
really meant. But, as we have seen, the Bishop had previously possessed such 
authority, and the Mayor would not have been likely to interfere at this late 
date. See below, p. 114. 


he shalL the act provides, be fined ten pounds for each 
offense. 1 jAs we shall see, the Master of the Revels conscien- 
tiously eTTaeavored to put this into effect. 

The Puritan objection to any sports on the Sabbath also ap- 
pears in general legislation. On his accession James issued 
a proclamation forbidding all " Bearbaiting, Bullbaiting, Enter- 
ludes, Common plays, or other like disordered or unlawful 
Exercises or pastimes" on the Sabbath. 2 But the extremes 
to which the Puritans went in their suppression of " lawful recrea- 
tions and honest exercises" on Sunday annoyed James. Such 
exercises were beneficial to the people, he declared, and besides, 
this prohibition of them would militate against the conversion 
of papists, who would think our religion allowed "no honest 
mirth or recreation." In 1618 the King therefore issued the 
order known as the "Book of Sports," 3 and to the indignation 
of the Puritans commanded that it be published in all parish 
churches. This allowed, after evening prayers, on Sundays 
and holy days, dancing, archery, leaping, vaulting, May-games, 
Whitsun Ales, and Morris Dances. But plays were still pro- 
hibited, along with bear and bull baitings and bowling. 

Apparently these unlawful pastimes still continued, for the 
first statute of the first Parliament of Charles I was one for 
"punishing of divers abuses committed on the Lord's day, 
called Sunday." * The phrasing of this act is strongly Puritan 
in tone. Under penalty of a fine, all persons are forbidden to 
produce or attend the condemned shows, — bear baitings, bull 
baitings, interludes, etc. "Lawful sports" are still permitted. 
The Puritans complained that this prohibition of Sunday plays 
was not enforced ; 5 but to Charles it seemed that the Puritan 
extremists were again prevailing. In 1633, accordingly, he 
ratified and republished his father's order of 1618, declaring 
that no one was to be molested when engaging in " lawful sports" 

1 3 James I, cap. 21. Statutes, IV, pt. ii, 1097. Journals of the House of 
Commons, I, 270, 286, 294, 300. Journals of the House of Lords, II, 416, 419, 
422, 436. 

2 Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 341. 

3 Printed in Lang, Social England Illustrated, 311-314. 

4 Statutes, V, 1. Continued by 3 Charles I, cap. 5. Statutes, V, 30. 
' Prynne, Histrio-Mastix, 645, 717; 1821 Variorum, III, 148, note. 

on Sunday. The prohibition of plays on the Sabbath remained 
as before. 1 Such was the course of general legislation on this 
subject until 1642, when the Puritans prevailed and prohibited 
all plays whatsoever at all times and seasons. The details of 
the London regulations will be considered in a later chapter. 

We have followed, in general outline, the history of the power 
of licensing plays, of determining what might be played, and 
when plays must be stopped altogether. The next point to 
consider is the licensing of players. Who might play? How 
were they licensed? There has been some misunderstanding 
on these points. The mention in the statutes of unlicensed 
players as "rogues and vagabonds," liable to brutal punishment, 
and the frequency with which Puritan w T riters reproached the 
profession with this degrading fact, have led people to believe 
that according to the English law all players were outcasts. It is 
true that the Roman law regarded the actor as without civic 
standing, incapable of citizenship, and the early church legis- 
lation continued this policy, compelling him to give up his pro- 
fession before he could be baptized. 2 Though the class of actors 
against whom these laws were made died out, the medieval 
church preserved in its legislation much the same attitude towards 
their successors, the minstrels, regarding them as beyond the 
pale. But until the growth of extreme Puritanism revived the 
early church policy on the subject, this attitude towards players 
does not appear in English law. 

No explicit provision for the licensing of actors was made until 
the statute of 1.572; but, as we found in the case of the censor- 
ship, when the law came it was little more than a codification 
of the practices which had already grown up. Our first step 
is to try to discover what the status of players was during the 
preceding century or more, when feudal England was passing 
over to modern. 

It is important to bear in mind that, according to the feudal 
conception of society, every man must have a definite place in 

1 Lang, Social England Illustrated, 316. 

2 See Chambers, Mediaeval Stage, I, chap. I, and Thompson, Puritans and 
Stage, 20-21. 


the social hierarchy; some personage or organization must be 
responsible for him; he must owe allegiance to some suzerain, 
lay or ecclesiastical, or to some guild or town corporation. The 
unattached person, "the masterless man," was an object of sus- 
picion, an outcast ; feudal society had no hold upon him. How, 
then, did the players fit into this social system? The predeces- 
sors of the professional actors, the minstrels, had solved the 
problem in various ways : they had been retainers of nobles 
and other powerful personages; they had imitated the trades 
in organizing guilds with power to license and regulate the pro- 
fession. 1 By the time the professional players developed, how- 
ever, it was too late for a guild system to be the natural method 
of regulation. It was rather the protection of a powerful lord 
given to his retainers that grew into a licensing system. 

As we view the state of affairs in the latter part of the fifteenth 
century, we find various sorts of companies performing. There 
were, as every one knows, many plays given in towns, especially 
the great cycles of mysteries presented by the trades guilds. 
The actors in these were members of the guilds, in good civic 
standing, and the performance was generally regarded as a 
worthy religious act. There were parish plays somewhat simi- 
lar in character. There were — rather later, perhaps — plays 
given by pupils in schools, by students in universities, by the 
young lawyers of the Inns of Court. All these were more or 
less amateur performances, approved by public opinion; the 
actors were persons of definite standing in the community; 
there was, of course, no suspicion of their being "rogues and 

Of a somewhat different type were the companies kept by 
noblemen for their own amusement, — the strictly professional 
players, descendants, apparently, of the minstrel class. By 
the opening of the Tudor period these were fairly well established. 
The earliest of which we have definite record are those of Henry 
Bourchier, Earl of Essex, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, 
afterwards Richard III, both mentioned in 1482. 2 Before the 
end of the century the Earls of Northumberland, Oxford, Derby, 

1 Chambers, op. cit., I, 55. 

J Collier, in Shakspere Society Papers, II, 87-88. 


and Shrewsbury, and Lord Arundel, all had their players, 1 and 
later the practice became widespread. Royal patronage was 
not lacking. Henry VII had four players of interludes in his 
household ; his son Arthur, Prince of Wales, had a company 
of his own by 1498, and Prince Henry, afterwards Henry VIII, 
one by 1506. 2 All the Tudor rulers continued to have a royal 
company in their household. 

As personal retainers of such noble and royal personages, 
these players had, of course, adequate protection and a definite 
place in the social system. No explicit recognition of their 
rights by the law was necessary. The earliest mention of them 
in the statutes, in 1463, though merely incidental, indicates a 
rather favorable attitude towards them. Together with hench- 
men, heralds, pursuivants, swordbearers to mayors, messengers, 
and minstrels, "players in their enterludes" are exempted from 
the sumptuary law regulating the apparel to be worn by differ- 
ent classes of society. 3 This exemption was continued by later 
statutes. 4 

While such town, parish, and household players performed 
in their own homes, they were obviously safe from arrest as 
vagabonds. It was the players who "wandered abroad" who 
needed some definite license to protect them. And they began 
to travel very early. The guild and parish players frequently 
left their homes. In the towns of Lydd and New Romney, for 
instance, we find, as Mr. Chambers tells us, records of the visits 
of players, between 1399 and 1508, from no less than fourteen 
neighboring places in Kent and Sussex. 5 When their services 
were not required in the households of their masters, royal and 
noblemen's companies also traveled, 6 playing wherever most 
profit might be gained. Court performances by outside com- 
panies also began early. Under Henry VII there are records of 
payments to players of noblemen and corporate towns, and to 
"French players." 7 

1 Chambers, Mediaeval Stage, II, 186. * Ibid., 188, note. 

5 3 Edward IV, cap. 5. Statutes, II, 402. 

4 1 Henry VIII, cap. 14; 6 Henry VIII, cap. 1; 7 Henry VIII, cap. 6; 24 
Henry VIII, cap. 13. Statutes, III, 9, 122, 181, 432. 

1 Mediaeval Stage, II, 121. See also ibid., 184-185. ' Ibid., 187. 

7 1821 Variorum, III, 42-43; Kelly, Drama in Leicester, 75, note. 


While he could show his connection with some guild or town 
corporation, or some royal or noble personage, and claim such 
protection, the traveling player was safe from molestation by the 
authorities, except in cases of flagrant misbehavior. But the 
player who wandered without any such connection was obviously 
a "masterless man," without place in the social system, and if 
he attracted the notice of the local officials, he was liable — 
not as player, but as masterless man — to the penalties imposed 
upon all vagabonds. And these penalties were severe. For 
centuries England had suffered from the disorders caused by 
multitudes of such unattached and irresponsible persons. With 
the Statutes of Laborers, in the middle of the fourteenth century, 
began a long course of legislation endeavoring to suppress such 
"vagabonds and valiant beggars." As the feudal households 
broke up after the Wars of the Roses, as soldiers found no lord 
to follow to battle, as the monasteries were dissolved, and the 
monks and the beggars they had fed were thrown upon the world, 
the necessity grew for rigorous action against the hordes of tramps 
and rogues who infested and made dangerous the highways. 
The laws became extremely severe; but severity alone could 
accomplish little. Under Elizabeth, however, a great series 
of statutes grappled seriously with the problem, and established 
what remains to this day the basis of the English Poor Law. 1 
It was one of this series which first laid down, in 1572, a definite 
system of licensing players. But before taking up these pro- 
visions in detail, it is well to consider a few incidents of govern- 
ment action showing the situation of players during the period 
just before the passage of the statute. 

The notable act of 1543, already mentioned as the first to 
suggest censorship, indicates that at this time no license for 
players was required, at least for mysteries and" moralities, for 
it provides that "it shalbe Iawfull to all and everye prsone and 
prsoncs, to sette foorth songes, plaies and enterludes, to be used 
and exercysed within this Realme and other the kinges Domyn- 
lons, for the rebuking and reproching of vices and the setting 
' ' foorth of vertue." 2 

1 For the history of this legislation, see Nicholls, English Poor Law, I. 

2 See above, p. 7. 


There arc signs that wandering players were beginning to 
become prominent among the crowd of other troublesome vaga- 
bonds. In 1545 Henry VIII issued a proclamation "for the 
punishment of Vagabonds, RulTins, and Idlepsons," ' condemn- 
ing the evils of vagabondage and declaring that for the reforma- 
tion thereof the King had decided to employ on his galleys and 
other vessels, for service in his wars, "all such ruffyns, Vaga- 
bonds, Masteries men, Comon players, and euill disposed 
psons." It is probable from the context, as Mr. Chambers sug- 
gests, 2 that "Comon players" here refers to gamblers; or it 
may be the first appearance of actors in the ignoble classifica- 
tion of vagabonds. The protection of great names had evidently 
been wrongfully used by wanderers, for the proclamation re- 
quires that no one shall avow any man to be his servant unless 
he really and legally is. 

An example of a company traveling under the protection of 
a nobleman's name is found in the incident already referred 
to, when, during the acutely troubled times of Queen Mary's 
reign, in April, 1556, the Privy Council wrote to the Earl of 
Shrewsbury, Lord President of the North, requiring him to 
suppress a company which had been presenting "naughty and 
seditious plays" in the north parts. These players, six or seven 
in number, had "named themsellfs to be servaunts unto S r 
Frauncis Leek," and had worn "his livery and badge on theyr 
sieves." Evidently Sir Francis was considered responsible for 
the conduct of his servants, for the Council ordered Lord 
Shrewsbury to write to him, "willing him to cause the said 
players that name themsellfs his servaunts to be sought for, and 
sent forthw th unto you, to be farther examined, and ordred 
according to theyr deserts," and commanding also "that he 
suffer not any of his servaunts hereafter to goo abowte the coun- 
trie, and use any playes, songs, or enterludes, as he will aunswer 
for the contrary." 3 

The liability of unprotected traveling players to punishment 
as vagabonds is evident in the concluding portion of this letter. 

1 Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 6-7. 

2 Mediccval Stage, II, 222, note. 

3 Lodge, Illustrations, I, 212-213. 


" And in caase any p'sonne shall attempt to sett forth these sorte 
of games or pastymes at any tyme hereafter, contrary to this 
ordre, " — i.e. the order given earlier in the letter against seditious 
plays, etc. — "and doo wander for that purpose, abrode in the 
countrie; yo r L. shall do well to gyve the Justices of Peace in 
charge to see them apprehendyd owt of hande, and punished as 
vagabounds, by vertue of the statute made agaynst loytering 
and idle p'sonnes." 

Elizabeth's proclamation of 1559, though containing no 
y provision concerning the licensing of players, mentions the 
companies of noblemen and gentlemen, and recognizes the re- 
sponsibility of the patrons in seeing that their servants obey the 
regulations concerning censorship. "And further her Maiestie 
gyueth speciall charge to her nobilitie and gentilmen, as they 
professe to obey and regarde her maiestie, to take good order in 
thys behalfe wyth their servauntes being players, that this her 
Maiesties commaundement may be dulye kepte and obeyed." 1 
We have seen how, in accordance with this order, Sir Robert 
Dudley, in the following month, wrote a letter on behalf of his 
players to the Lord President of the North. 2 

The operation of this system of licensing — if it may be called 
a system — can be observed also in the records of the town of 
Leicester, which Mr. Kelly has published. Many traveling 
companies appeared in Leicester, and when the Mayor or other 
municipal officers had approved of their right to play, they 
were permitted to give a sort of official performance. It is 
interesting to note the kind of license these companies had, — 
that is, under the protection of what personage or corporation 
they traveled. 3 The first company so recorded is in 1530, — 
a royal one, the Princess Mary's players. In the following year 
the same company came again, and also the King's players. 
In 1537 came the Earl of Derby's company and the Lord Secre- 
tary's. Later on appear those of Sir Henry Parker, of the Lord 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, 20. 

2 See above, p. 15. 

3 See the records in Kelly, Drama in Leicester, under the years mentioned. 
Portions of similar records for other towns may be found in the Historical MSS. 
Commission Reports. See, for example, visits of companies to Cambridge from 
1530 on, III, 322-323; and to Abingdon from 1559 on, II, 149-150. 


Protector, of the Marquis of Northampton, of the Duke of 
Northumberland, and in 1555 and 1557 the Queen's players. 
After Elizabeth's accession the "Queen's players" appear 
frequently, and the number of noblemen's and gentlemen's 
companies increases. One appears under the name of "my 
Lady of Suffolk." Companies from other towns also come, — 
the "players of Coventry" in 1564, 1567, 1569, and 1571, the 
"players of Hull" in 1568. So runs the record up to the pas- 
sage of the statute of 1572. 

It is evident, then, that in this period, though no license was 
explicitly required, something like a licensing system had grown 
naturally out of existing social conditions. Players who wan- 
dered abroad needed to have their legal status certified to by 
connection with some town or some person of rank. Otherwise 
they were liable to be treated as vagabonds, like other master- 
less men. The determination of their standing was naturally 
left to the discretion of the local authorities, — Mayors and 
Justices of the Peace. In all cases, of course, they were supposed 
to obey such censorship regulations as there were, and the edicts 
stopping plays at times. 

The famous Statute 14 Elizabeth, cap. 5 (1572), 1 was entitled 
"An Acte for the Punishement of Vacabondes, and for Relief 
of the Poore and Impotent." Besides many other provisions, 
it endeavored to regulate the throngs of wanderers on the high- 
ways, and it provided a system of licensing for such of them as 
were engaged in legitimate business, — proctors, fencers, bear- 
wards, actors, minstrels, jugglers, peddlers, tinkers, chapmen, 
and scholars of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge going 
about begging. Two forms of license were available for players 
who "wandered abroad." They might "belong to any baron 
of the realm or other honorable personage of greater degree." 
Mere gentlemen, who had previously authorized companies, 
as we saw in the proclamation of 1559, 2 were no longer allowed 
the licensing power. If players had not the protection of a 
noble personage, they were required to procure a license from 
" two Justices of the Peace at the least, whereof one to be of the 
Quorum, where and in what shire they shall happen to wander." 

1 Statutes, IV, pt. i, 590. 2 See above, p. 26. 


Subsequent Poor Laws altered this system, steadily limiting 
the number of those authorized to license traveling players, 
taking away power from local officials, and gradually concen- 
trating it, theoretically at least, in the Crown. The 39 Elizabeth 
(1 597-1 598), cap. 4, 1 no longer permitted the license of two Jus- 
tices of the Peace. Only barons or other personages of greater 
degree could license players who "wandered abroad," and the 
authorization must be in writing, "under the hand and seal of 
arms of such baron or personage." Finally, the Statute 1 James 
I, cap. 7 2 (1604), limited the licensing power to the Crown alone. 
"Henceforth," it declared, "no authority to be given or made 
by any baron of this realm, or other honorable personage of 
greater degree, shall be available to free and discharge the said 
persons, or any of them, from the pains and punishments" 
inflicted on vagabonds. This left only the possibility of royal 

It will be noticed that these laws applied only to players 
"wandering abroad." This was a vague and elastic term, 
never, so far as I know, explicitly defined. It might have been 
taken, one would suppose, to apply to any town actors perform- 
ing away from their home town, and to any nobleman's or royal 
company acting in public away from the household and presence 
of their patron. 

The penalties to which the unlicensed traveling player was 
liable were extremely severe. According to the 14 Elizabeth, 
cap. 5, if convicted of vagabondage, he was "grievously whipped, 
and burnt through the gristle of the right ear with a hot iron 
of the compass of an inch about . . . except some honest per- 
son take such offender into his service for one whole year next 
following." If he left this service, he was to suffer the punish- 
ment just described. On a second offense he was to be put to 
■ death as a felon, unless taken into service for two years, and if 
he deserted from this, he was to be executed. On a third con- 
viction he was to suffer death and loss of land and goods as a 
felon, without allowance of benefit of clergy or sanctuary. 3 
These punishments were altered somewhat by later laws. The 
35 Elizabeth, cap. 7, substituted setting in the stocks for the burn- 

1 Statutes, IV, pt. ii, 899. 2 Ibid., 1024. 3 Ibid., pt. i, 590. 


ing described above. 1 According to the 39 Elizabeth, cap. 4, 
the vagabond was to be whipped and sent back to his birthplace 
or last residence; on repeated offenses to be imprisoned and 
banished; and if he returned, put to death. 2 According to the 
1 James I, cap. 7, incorrigible rogues, considered dangerous by 
Justices of the Peace, were to be branded with an "R" and 
sentenced to labor ; on the second offense to be declared felons 
without benefit of clergy. 3 

When one considers these laws baldly, it certainly seems that 
players must have been a degraded and outcast class. But 
this impression is hardly justified. Of course the inclusion of 
any sort of players in such company was discreditable to the 
profession; and wandering actors must have made themselves 
obnoxious, to cause their specific mention among vagabonds. 
But in estimating the significance of the laws, we must remember 
that the rigor of these statutes was not directed primarily against 
players. Their purpose and scope was vastly greater than any 
mere regulation of actors. The severity of the penalties was 
supposed by a brutal age to be necessary for the suppression of 
the grave dangers of vagabondage. The 14 Elizabeth, cap 5, 
recites in its preamble that "all the partes of this Realme of 
England and Wales be p'sentlye with Roges Vacabondes and 
Sturdy Beggers excedinglye pestred, by meanes wherof daylye 
happencth in the same Realme Murders, Theftes and other 
greate Outrage." The remedy of this grave social trouble was 
the object of the act. The status of players it touched on only 

We must remember, too, that the term "vagabond" was 
applied only to players who "wandered abroad," and only to 
unlicensed players; and that it was similarly applied to many 
other classes of people, some of them pursuing occupations con- 
sidered entirely legitimate, when carried on under the regula- 
tions laid down by law. The significance of the mention of 
players in this connection can best be seen from a perusal of 
the very interesting definition of Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdy 
Beggars in the 14 Elizabeth, cap. 5, which gives a vivid picture 
of English wayfaring life in the days of the great Queen. 

1 Statutes, IV, pt. ii, 855. 2 Ibid., 899. 3 Ibid., 1024. 


"All & every suche p'sone & p'sones that be or utter themselves 
to be Proctours or Procuratours, going in or about any Countrey or 
Countreys within this Realme, without sufficyent Aucthoritye de- 
ryved from or under our Soveraigne Ladye the Queene, and all other 
ydle p'sones goinge aboute in any Countrey of the said Realme, 
using subtyll craftye and unlawfull Games or Playes, and some of 
them fayninge themselves to have knowledge in Phisnomye, Palmes- 
trye or other abused Scyences, whereby they beare the people in 
Hand they can tell their Destinyes Deathes and Fortunes and suche 
other lyke fantasticall Imaginacions; And all and every p'sone and 
p'sones beynge whole and mightye in Body and able to labour, 
havinge not Land or Maister, nor using any lawfull Marchaundize, 
Crafte or Mysterye whereby hee or shee might get his or her Lyvinge, 
and can gyve no reckninge how hee or shee dothe lawfully get his or 
her Lyvinge; & all Fencers Bearewardes Comon Players in Enter- 
ludes, and Minstrels, not belonging to any Baron of this Realme or 
towardes any other honorable Personage of greater Degree ; all 
Juglers Pedlars Tynkers and Petye Chapmen; whiche said Fencers 
Bearewardes Comon Players in Enterludes Mynstrels Juglers Pedlers, 
Tynkers and Petye Chapmen, shall wander abroade and have not 
Lycense of two Justices of the Peace at the leaste, whereof one to be 
of the quorum, wher and in what Shier they shall happen to wander. 
And all Comon Labourers being persons able in Bodye using loyter- 
ing, and refusinge to worke for suche reasonable Wages as ys taxed 
and comonly gyven in suche partes where such persones do or shall 
happen to dwell; and all counterfeytures of Lycenses Passeportes 
and all users of the same, knowing the same to be counterfeyte; And 
all Scollers of the Universityes of Oxford or Cambridge y* goe about 
begginge, not beinge aucthorysed under the Seale of the said Univ'- 
sities, by the Comyssarye Chauncelour or Vicechauncelour of the 
same; And all Shipmen p'tendinge Losses by Sea, other then suche 
as shalbe hereafter provided for; And all p'sones delivered out of 
Gaoles that begge for their Fees or do travayle to their Countreys 
or Freendes, not having Lycense from two Justices of the Peace of 
the same Countye where he or shee was delyv'ed." l 

Though they wandered in such company at times, players, as 
players, were evidently not vagabonds in the eyes of the law. 
Players who disobeyed the government regulations were liable 

1 Statutes, IV, pt. i, 591-592. Definitions in subsequent laws differ somewhat, 
but follow this in the main. Hazlitt notes (English Drama, 37, note) that the 
Statute 7 James I (1609-1610), cap. 4, directed against Rogues, Vagabonds, and 
Sturdy Beggars, contains no mention of "Common Players." This is, however, 
of no significance, since the act does not contain any definition or enumeration of 
vagabonds, and so would not mention players. 


to be considered such, as were other masterless and lawless men. 
Of course this argument is not intended to imply that actors 
were, on the whole, high in the social scale; that is a different 
matter. But to say, as does one of the most scholarly of stage 
historians, that "but for courtesy and a legal fiction, they were 
vagabonds and liable to a whipping," l seems inaccurate and 
unjust. As is the case to-day, there were players of all sorts, 
— some no better than tramps, some, like William Shakspere, 
high in prosperity and royal favor. The royal patents, which 
we shall consider later on, show the regard in which many actors 
were held and their assured legal status. And no player, while 
he obeyed the regulations laid down by the law, had need to 
fear punishment as a vagabond. Under Puritan domination, 
of course, the whole situation was radically altered. 

It is interesting to investigate the practical effect of these laws, 
though it is naturally possible to consider here only a few ex- 
amples of their operation. So far as we can see, the statute of 
1572 made very little change from the conditions which we ob- 
served in the preceding period. The number of town players 
was diminishing; but companies still traveled under royal or 
noble protection; the validity of their license was still passed 
on by town and shire officials, who would, however, as in the 
past, rarely venture to refuse their approval for performances \ 
by a properly protected company. Somewhat more regularity 
and rigor was perhaps observed. 

As time went on, and the relics of feudal ideas waned, the 
players seem to have had a less personal relation to their patron. 
They were no longer always servants of the household; their 
noble patron often conferred his name and license on them 
largely as a matter of form, in token of his approval of the drama, 
or perhaps sometimes in return for favors received. 2 We have 
noticed that Sir Francis Leek's company, in 1556, wore his 
livery and his badge on their sleeves, 3 in token of their connec- 

1 Chambers, Mediceval Stage, II, 226. 

2 It seems very likely that some of the traveling companies may have pur- 
chased from impecunious noblemen the right to use their name and license. Such 
a commission had a considerable cash value. Later on, royal licenses were some- 
times bought and sold, even pawned. See below, pp. 41-42. 

3 See above, p. 25. 


tion with him. Later on, as the relation became less personal, 
the system of a formal written license apparently became com- 
mon, and this was required, as we have seen, by the statute of 
1 597-1 598. ' An example of such a license has come down to 
us, — that shown to the town officials of Leicester in 1583 by 
the Earl of Worcester's company. The following copy of it is 
given in the town records : — 

"William Earle of Worcester &c. hathe by his wrytinge dated the 
14 of Januarye A 25 Eliz. R e licensed his s'unts v'z. Robt Browne, 
James Tunstall, Edward Allen, W m Henryson, Tho. Coke, Rye' 
Johnes, Edward Browne, Rye' Andrewes to playe & goe abrodc, 
vsinge themselves orderly &c. (in theise words &c.) These are 
therefore to require all suche her Highnes offycers to whom these p'nts 
shall come, quietly & frendly w th in yo r severall p'sincts & Cor- 
porac'ons to p'myt & suffer them to passe w th yo r furtherance usinge 
& demeanynge y em selves honestly & to geve them (the rather for my 
sake) suche intertaynement as other noblemens players haue (In 
Wytnes &c.) " 2 

Companies still traveled, also, under royal authority. As 
we have seen, the players of interludes belonging to the royal 
household had gone on tour during the earlier Tudor reigns and 
the first years of Elizabeth's. 3 In March, 1583, a new company 
of the "Queen's servants" was organized, apparently on much 
the same basis as these earlier household players, but consisting 
of the most prominent members of the profession. 4 These actors 
traveled frequently. "The Queen's Majesty's players" are 
noted as visiting Leicester thirteen times within the years 1582- 
1602. 5 In 1 591 came "the Queen's Majesty's players, being 
another company called the Children of the Chapel." This 
deserves further notice. From the time of Richard III it had 
been customary to issue orders for taking boys with good voices 
from the choirs of cathedrals and elsewhere in order that they 
might sing in the Chapel Royal or St. Paul's. 6 Various patents 

1 See above, p. 28. 2 Kelly, Drama in Leicester, 212-213. 3 See above, 
pp. 23, 26-27. 

* For a more detailed account of this company, see below, pp. 166 ff. 

6 Kelly, Drama in Leicester, under the years cited. Probably this title does 
not always designate the same company. 

6 See Richard Ill's warrant in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 41-42, note. 


conferring such authority were granted under Elizabeth. 1 
These companies of children, as is well known, were used for 
dramatic as well as choral purposes. A striking case in connec- 
tion with this same company which we find in Leicester in 1591, 
came up in 1600, when a complaint was made against Nathaniel 
Giles, Master of the Chapel Children, and others. Under her 
Majesty's patent, the complainant declares, Giles has wrongly 
and unjustly taken children away from schools and prentices 
from their masters, against the will of themselves, their parents, 
tutors, and guardians, — children not fitted for singing in the 
Chapel, but intended by Giles for acting in plays and interludes. 2 
The case is an interesting one, and shows how royal patents were 
sometimes twisted to dramatic purposes. 

The Crown also began to show favor to other companies 
besides those immediately in the royal service. The tendency 
towards greater formality in the licensing system and towards 
the concentration of licensing power in the Crown is shown 
strikingly in the royal patent to the Earl of Leicester's company 
in 1574, which is, so far as we know, the first explicit authoriza- 
tion of this kind to be made formally under the Great Seal. 
This document showing the high favor in which the Queen held 
the company which was afterwards Shakspere's, deserves to be 
quoted at length. 

"Elizabeth by the grace of god Quene of England, France, and 
Ireland, defendo 1 of the faith &c. To all Justices, Mayors, Sheriefs, 
Bayliffs, heade Constables, under Constables, and all other our 
officers and ministers greeting. Knowe ye that we, of o r esp'iall 
grace, certen knowledge and mere moc'on, Have licensed and au- 
thorized, and by these p'sents do license and aucthorize, o r loving 
subjects James Burbadge, John Perkyn, John Lanham, William 
Johnson and Robert Wylson, servantes to o r trustie and welbeloved 
Cosyn and Counsello r , the Earle of Leicestre, To use, exercise and 
occupie the art and faculty of playeng comedies, tragedies, Enter- 
ludes, Stage playes, and such other like as they have alredy used and 
studied, or hereafter shall use and studye, aswcll for the recreac'on 
of o r loving subjects, as for o r solace and pleasure, when we shall 

1 See Lvsons, Environs, I, 69, note; and such a patent printed in full in Hazlitt, 
English Drama, 33. 

' See documents printed in Fleay, London Stage, 127 ft". 


thinke good to se them. As also to use and occupie all such Instrum" 
as they have alredy practised, or herafter shall practise, for and 
during our ples r : And the said Comedies, Tragedies, Enterludes and 
Stage playes, together w th there musick, to shewe, publishe, exercise 
and occupy to their best comoditie during all the terme afforesaid, 
as well w ttl in o r Cyty of London and Libties of the same, as also w th in 
the liberties and fredoms of any o r Cytyes, townes, Boroughes &c. 
whatsoever, as w th out the same, thoroughout o r Realme of England: 
willing and comaunding yow and every of yow, as ye tender our 
pleasure, to p'mit and suffer them herin w th out any yo r letts, hinder- 
ance, or molestac'on during the terme afforesaid, any act, statute, 
p'clamac'on, or com'aundm' hertofore made, or herafter to be made, 
to the contrary notw th standing. Provided that the saide Comedies, 
Tragadies, Enterludes and Stage-playes be by the M r of o r Revills 
(for the tyme being) before seen and allowed, and that the same be 
not published, or showen in the tyme of comen prayer, or in the tyme 
of greate and comen plague in o r said Cyty of London. In witnes 
whereof, &c." l 

It should be noted especially that this patent is explicitly 
declared to be supreme in all places over all other acts, statutes, 
proclamations, or orders whatsoever. The authority which it 
bestowed would naturally prevail over all local regulations in 
London or elsewhere, and is an interesting example of the auto- 
cratic power exercised by the Crown. 2 

Less formal licenses were also granted indirectly by the royal 
authority. On April 29, 1593, for example, the Privy Council 
gave an "open warrant" to the Earl of Sussex's players, author- 
izing them to "exercise their quality of playing comedies and 
tragedies in any county, city, town, or corporation, not being 
within seven miles of London, where the infection is not, and in 
places convenient and times fit." 3 About a week later a similar 
license was issued to Lord Strange's company. 4 

Such royal authorization, even if not necessary under the law, 
was very valuable to any nobleman's players. It brought them 
much greater consideration from local officials and higher pay, 
— for it was customary, as we see in the Leicester records, to 
pay a company in proportion to the rank and dignity of its 
protector. 5 

1 From the text of the Privy Seal, printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 25-26. 

2 See below, p. 155. 3 Acts, XXIV, 209. * Ibid., 212. 
6 Kelly, Drama in Leicester, 94. 


Another form of indirect royal authorization grew up within 
this period, — that by the Master of the Revels. By his patent 
of 1 58 1, as we have seen, the Crown had delegated to him 
power "to order and reform, authorize and put down" all plays, 
players, and playmakers, together with their playing places, 
throughout the kingdom. 1 This appeared to confer power to 
license players everywhere. As we shall see, the Master suc- 
ceeded in course of time in establishing his right to do so in 
the country at large, but his right to license actors within Lon- 
don remained somewhat doubtful. An example of a company 
traveling under his license appears in Leicester in 1583. Un- 
familiar with this sort of authorization, the town officials entered 
the company on the records as the "servants of the Master of 
the Revels," — the form used in the case of noblemen's players. 
They entered also a copy of the license. 2 

The patent of 1574 and the other royal favors to certain com- 
panies mark a change which was taking place in stage condi- 
tions. A few more or less permanent companies were now be- 
coming prominent, and as these gained in the newly erected 
theaters fixed playing places, they succeeded in establishing 
themselves more firmly and overshadowing the less important 
players. Certain prominent companies frequently performed 
at Court, and, as we shall see, the royal favor secured for them 
many privileges in London. The Privy Council occasionally 
requested the local officials in and about the city to permit per- 
formances by the favored players and no others, — thus giving 
them a sort of monopoly and foreshadowing the system which 
developed in the next reign. 

The conditions under James and Charles differed to some ex- 
tent from those under Elizabeth. As we have seen, the Statute 1 .„ 
James I, cap. 7, took away from noblemen the power of licensing ' 
players. 3 There remained only the license from the Crown. 
Besides some desire for stricter regulation, the purpose of this 

1 See above, pp. 16-17. 

3 See below, p. 53. Some additional references for records of traveling com- 
panies during this period may be found in Halliwcll-Phillipps, Visits of Shake- 
speare's Company; and J. T. Murray, English Dramatic Companies in the Towns 
outside of London, 1550-1600, in Modern Philology, II, no. 4 (April, 1905). 

3 See above, p. 28. 


law appears to have been the granting of a monopoly to the 
favored companies. The Puritan element in Parliament no 
doubt desired restriction of the number of players and would, 
indeed, probably have liked to abolish them utterly; 1 the King 
was glad to have the power of licensing entirely in his own hands. 
The system of royal patents, already begun, now developed ex- 
tensively. This sort of authorization had, we have observed, 
been available long before this, in one form or another : royal 
companies had traveled abroad under the protection of the royal 
name, probably under the earlier Tudor kings, and certainly 
from Mary's time onward; the Chapel Children had used their 
patent for a similar purpose; less formal authorizations, and in 
1574 a patent under the Great Seal, had been issued to noble- 
men's companies. 2 The Crown now proceeded to extend this 
system of formal patents, and to convert the prominent noble- 
men's companies into servants of the various members of the 
royal family. 

This policy James had begun immediately after his accession, 
and before the passage of the statute. He arrived in London on 
May 7, and on May 1 7 there was issued the Privy Seal, directing the 
patent under the Great Seal to the Lord Chamberlain's com- 
pany, Shakspere's, to be known henceforth as the King's Men. 
This important document is here quoted as a type of such li- 
censes. It is obviously modeled on Elizabeth's patent of 1574, 
with some alterations. As permanent theaters were now in 
existence, the company's London playing place is here specified. 
The addition of the urgent royal request that courtesy and con- 
sideration be shown to the actors is also notable, and indicates 
the high favor in which they were held. 

"James, by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland, Fraunce 
& Irland, defendo r of the faith, &c. To all Justices, Maio", Sheriffs, 
Constables, Hedboroughes, and other o r officers and loving subjects 
greeting. Know ye, y' we of o r speciall grace, certaine knowledge, 
& meere motion have licenced and authorized, & by these prhts doo 
licence and authorize, these o r s'vants, Lawrence Fletcher, William 
Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustine Phillippes, John Hennings, 
Henry Condell, William Sly, Rob't Armyn, Richard Cowlye, and the 

1 See below, p. 222. 2 See above, pp. 32 S. 


rest of their associats, freely to use and exercise the Arte and facultie 
of playing Comedies, Tragedies, Histories, Entcrludcs, Moralls, 
Pastoralls, Stage plaies, & such other like, as they have already 
studied, or heerafter shall use or studie, aswell for the recreation of 
o r loving subjects, as for o r solace and pleasure, when we shall thinke 
good to see them, during o r pleasure. And the said Comedies, 
Tragedies, Histories, Knterludc, Morall, Pastoralls, Stage plaies, 
& such like, To shew and exercise publiqucly to their best Com- 
moditic, when the infection of the plague shall decrease, as well w th in 
theire now usuall howse called the Globe, w th in o r Countie of Surrey, 
as also w th in anie towne halls, or Mout halls, or other convenient 
places \v th in the lib'ties and frcedome of any other Cittie, Univ'sitie, 
Towne, or Borough whatsoev' w"'in o r said Realmes and dominions. 
Willing and comaunding you, and ev'y of you, as you tender o r 
pleasure, not only to p'mitt and suffer them heerin, w th out any yo r 
letts, hinderances or molestac'ons, during o r said pleasure, but also 
to be ayding and assisting to them yf any wrong be to them offered. 
And to allowe them such former Courtesies, as hathe bene given to 
men of their place and qualitie: And also what further favo r you 
shall shew to these o r s'vants for o r sake, we shall take kindely at y r 
hands. In witness wherof &c." ' 

Within a short time after the date of this patent the Earl of 
Worcester's players must have been taken into the service of 
Queen Anne, and the Admiral's into Prince Henry's; for on 
February 19, 1604, there is a record of payments to the " Prince's 
players" and the "Queen's Majesty's players," 2 and in April, 
1604, the three companies of the King, the Queen, and the Prince 
are mentioned in a letter from the Privy Council to the Lord 
Mayor. 3 The patent for the Queen's players exists only in a 
rough, undated draft, conjecturally dated in the Calendar of 
State Papers, July, 1603. 4 No patent for the Prince's company 
exists of earlier date than 1606. 4 Perhaps the first one granted 
has been lost; or the early authorization of the company may 
have been in some less formal shape. In January, 1604, a 
patent appointed the Chapel boys Children of the Revels to the 

1 From the text of the Privy Seal, printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 38-40. 
See Appendix. 

2 Cunningham, Revels Accounts, xxxv. 

5 Printed in Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 472, and in Henslowe Papers, 

* For particulars concerning dates and bibliography of patents, see the 


Queen. 1 In the following June was passed the Statute I James 
i, cap. 7, formally establishing this system by the abolition of 
noblemen's licenses. 2 

The process of taking over the prominent London companies 
to the service of members of the royal family continued. The 
Duke of York, afterwards Charles I, and the Lady Elizabeth, 
afterwards Queen of Bohemia, were patrons of companies. The 
Elector Frederick, the King's son-in-law, took over to his service 
the Prince's players on the death of Prince Henry in 1612. In 
161 5 a provincial traveling company was granted a patent under 
the name of " Her Majesty's Servants of her Royal Chamber at 
Bristol." All these patents are modeled, in the main, on that 
of the King's Men, with some modifications. For example, 
more specific regulations are inserted concerning playing in time 
of plague ; in some later patents a proviso is introduced reserv- 
ing all rights granted to the Master of the Revels ; and various 
theaters are of course specified as the authorized playing places. 
A second patent was sometimes granted to a company for one 
cause or another : the company was reorganized in some way, 
or its patron changed, as when Charles I took over his father's 
players, or the Elector, Prince Henry's ; or it wished specific 
authority to perform in some other theater, as in the case of the 
new patent to the King's Men in 161 9, confirming their right to 
play at the Blackfriars theater as well as at the Globe. 3 

In running over even thus briefly the history of royal patents, 
mention should be made of an interesting indication of the 
growth of Puritan influence. /The warrant to Giles in 1626, for 
taking up singing boys for service in the Royal Chapel, for the 
first time expressly forbids their acting in plays, because "it is 
not fit or decent that such as should sing the praises of God 
Almighty should be trained or employed in such lascivious and 
profane exercises." * ' 

The result of the system of patents was a practical monopoly 

1 For particulars concerning dates and bibliography of patents, see the 

2 See Journals of the House of Commons, I, 193, 199, 207, 214, 240, 245; 
Journals of the House of Lords, II, 301, 303, 304, 315, 319, 320, 321, 327. 

'See below, pp. 201-202, and Appendix. 
* Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 446. 


of playing in London for the group of favored companies in'. 
royal service. This was eminently in keeping with the customs 
of the time. Under Elizabeth, as the system of central control 
over industries supplanted local trade regulation, there had been 
royal patents of monopoly granted to favored persons, — one, 
for example, giving sole right to import, make, and sell playing- 
cards, which gave rise to a famous suit, and glass, salt, soap, and 
saltpeter monopolies. Under James and Charles the Crown sold 
such patents, with more or less profit to the royal treasury. 1 

In the case of the actors the monopoly of the patentees was 
not absolute. We find records of outside companies appearing 
occasionally in London. French players, for example, were 
granted permission to perform in 1629 and 1635, and a "com- 
pany of strangers" appeared in 1623. 2 

There were other forms of license conferred on players besides 
the royal patents. The Lord Chamberlain, who, as we have 
seen, had special jurisdiction over the drama, issued various 
tickets of privilege to companies and to individual actors. 3 
An interesting example is a "players' pass," issued in 1636 and 
signed by the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, Lord Cham- 
berlain. It grants to certain members of the King's company 
who are to attend his Majesty on his progress, royal authority 
to travel and perform in all towns corporate, etc., while on this 
tour. 4 In the Leicester records we find in 1622 a note of a com- 
pany of players traveling "under the Lord Chamberlain's 
authority" ; and in 1625 and 1627 a company designated as "the 
Earl of Pembroke's servants," — a title which may indicate a 
similar authorization. 5 

The Lord Chamberlain's subordinate, the Master of the Revels, 
extended during this period the exercise of the large powers 

1 See Price, English Patents of Monopoly. 

2 1821 Variorum, III, 120, note, 121, note, 224; Chalmers, Supplemental 
Apology, 215, 216, note. 

3 Chalmers, Apology, 512, note. 

4 Printed in 1S21 Variorum, 166-167, note, from MS. in the Lord Chamber- 
lain's Office. 

5 Kelly, Drama in Leicester, under the years cited. Pembroke was Lord 
Chamberlain from 161 7 to 1630. He was succeeded in that office by his brother, 
the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery. 


delegated to him by the King. Though it is doubtful whether 
he ever actually licensed companies of players in London, he 
seems to have exercised this power freely in other parts of the 
kingdom. During the period several companies appeared at 
Leicester traveling under the Master's license, — one in 1623, 
one in 1626, three in 1630, and one in 1639. 1 

It seems that when a traveling company presented a proper 
license to town officials, it had by custom a right to perform. 
The royal patents, indeed, expressly granted this right, and later 
ones authorized the actors to play in any town halls, moot halls, 
or other convenient rooms within any town they visited. When 
such a performance in official buildings, or anywhere in the town, 
happened to be inconvenient or distasteful to the local authori- 
ties, they paid the players a lump sum of money for foregoing 
their right to perform. 2 From 1571 on, entries of such payments 
may be found in the Leicester records, varying in amount accord- 
ing to the dignity of the players' patron or license. As the 
Puritan feeling grew stronger these became more frequent, cul- 
minating in the year 1622, when seven such payments were 
made. 3 Similar entries are found in the records of other towns. 4 

Though the Statute 1 James I, cap. 7, limiting the licensing 
power to the Crown, was fairly well obeyed in London, it was 
apparently not consistently enforced in the kingdom at large. 
Noblemen had theoretically no longer the right to license wan- 
dering players; but their companies still traveled through the 

1 Kelly, Drama in Leicester, under the years cited. 

3 Thompson, in his Puritans and Stage, 131, quotes from the Speech and 
Charge of Justice Coke in 1606, as printed in a pamphlet published in 1607, 
a passage which seems to contradict this view of the players' right to perform. 
Referring to the abuses caused by actors throughout the country, the Charge 
asserts that they may be easily reformed. "They hauing no Commission to 
play in any place without leaue: And therefore, if by your willingnesse they be 
not entertained you may soone be rid of them." But Coke himself, in the 
Preface to the seventh part of his Reports, condemned this pamphlet as "errone- 
ous" and "published without his privity." "Besides the omission of divers 
principal matters," he declared, "there is no one period therein expressed in 
that sort and sense that I delivered." (See a discussion of the matter in Notes 
and Queries, April 30, 1853.) We may therefore safely disregard the interpre- 
tation of the law contained in the printed Charge. See also below, p. 72. 

3 Kelly, Drama in Leicester, under the years cited. 

* Sec Historical MSS. Commission Reports, X, pt. iv, 540; XI, pt. iii, 28. 


country and were recognized by local officials as entitled to per- 
form. 1 In the Leicester records of payments to players I have 
noted such companies after 1604, when the new law was passed. 
One appeared in 1605, two in 1606, 1608, 1610, 1614, and one in 
1615. About this time some inkling of the new regulations seems 
to have reached Leicester. In 1616, for the first time, players 
are noted as having a "warrant under the King's hand and privy 
signet." Two such entries appear in this year and one in 161 7 ; 
in 1618 is a notice of a company with a "commission under the 
Great Seal of England" ; and during these three years no noble- 
man's company is mentioned. But if the town was consciously 
living up to the new law, it soon relapsed. In the following 
years, among the entries of royal companies, noblemen's appear 
again, — one in 1619, two in 1620, and one in 1624, 1625, 1627, 
and 1637. During the later years the name or authority of a 
company is often omitted, and the records of licenses are thus 
incomplete. 2 

One would not expect to find, of course, any rigorous or consis- 
tent enforcement of the law throughout the kingdom. Even if 
the local officials were familiar with the regulations and con- 
scientiously tried to put them into effect, there were numerous 
possibilities of evasion. A pathetic protest has come down to us 
from the London Common Council, in 1584, complaining that'll/ 
when special privileges were granted to the Queen's Men, all 
the playing places in the city were filled with players calling 
themselves the Queen's Men. 3 Even when formal patents were 
in use, they could be handed from one company to another. We 
see the Mayor of Exeter in anxious uncertainty as to whether 
he had offended the Crown by refusing permission to a company 
of men, thirty, forty, and fifty years of age, with only five youths 
among them, to act on the authority of a royal patent for chil- 
dren. 4 The Mayor of Banbury, in 1633, arrested a company as 
rogues, because, though they had two licenses, one from the Mas- 

1 The company authorized by the Duke of Lennox in 1604 should perhaps 
be placed in this class. Or possibly his blood relationship to the King gave 
him some claim to licensing power. See his warrant in the Henslowe Papers, 62. 

2 Kelly, op. cit., under the years cited. 

3 Document printed in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 216. See below, 
p. 174. * Fleay, London Stage, 310; State Papers, Dom., 1611-1618, 549. 

42 - 

ter of the Revels and the other from the King, the date of the 
first had been forged and the second had been purchased from 
a pawnshop ! * 

There remains to be considered the national regulation of 
playing places; but on this point there is comparatively little 
to be said. Apparently there was no definite system of licensing 
playhouses, and no general legislation on the subject. Such 
regulations as there were, were chiefly matters of local adminis- 
tration, and, in the case of London, will be treated in detail in 
a later chapter. There are a few points, however, which may 
fittingly be touched on here. 

The earliest concern about playing places was an affair of the 
church rather than of the state. Growing out of the liturgical 
origin of the English drama, the custom of giving plays in churches 
survived sporadically until Stuart times, though many efforts 
were made to suppress it. In 1542 Bishop Bonner of London 
issued a proclamation to the clergy of his diocese, prohibiting 
"all manner of common plays, games, or interludes to be played, 
set forth, or declared within their churches, chapels, etc." 2 
Similar orders were promulgated at later dates, and even in 1603 
the abuse was noticed in one of the Canons of James I, given 
soon after his accession. 3 As late as 1602 players apparently 
claimed at times a sort of prescriptive right to perform in churches, 
for we find entered in the parish register of Syston, a village near 
Leicester, a payment in that year by the churchwardens "to 
Lord Morden's players because they should not play in the 
church . . . xii d." * 

As in the licensing of plays and players, the Crown and the 
Privy Council exercised supreme power at will, and interfered 
in local administration. We shall find the Council frequently 
asking or commanding the London authorities to permit per- 
formances in certain playing places ; authorizing the erection of 

1 State Papers, Dom., 1633-1634, 47-49. 2 ^ 2I Variorum, III, 45- 

3 Ibid. ; and see also Chambers, Medurval Stage, II, 191, and Kelly, Drama 

in Leicester, 15-16. 

* Kelly, Drama in Leicester, 16. Probably the parish officials feared to offend 

the players' noble patron by an unqualified refusal to allow their performance in 

the church, and thus bought them off. 



a new theater; or ordering that an old one be "plucked down" 
and abolished. The Master of the Revels also had power to 
license playing places, and, in one case at least, he granted per- 
mission for the erection of a new theater in London. 1 

The system of royal patents, moreover, extended to playing 
places. Those issued to certain companies, as we have seen, 
explicitly authorized performances in any "town halls, moot 
halls, guild halls, schoolhouses," or other convenient places in 
the towns they visited. And they also licensed the company 
specifically to perform in its permanent London theater, whether 
this was in the City or in the Liberties. Special royal patents, 
granting permission to erect new theaters in and about London, 
were issued, as we shall find, in 1615, 1620, 1635, and 1639. The 
last of these, to Sir William D'Avenant, is interesting as showing 
what is apparently a new feature in government regulation, — 
a restriction on the prices of admission. The patentee is au- 
thorized to charge only "such sum or sums as is or hereafter 
from time to time shall be accustomed to be given or taken in 
other playhouses and places for the like plays, scenes, present- 
ments, and entertainments." 2 

1 See below, pp. 73-74. 2 See 1821 Variorum, III, 93-95. 


The Master of the Revels 

The various functions of the Master of the Revels were as 
characteristic of the age in which he served as was his picturesque 
title. He is therefore not altogether easy to understand unless 
one conceives him against a background of the customs of his 
time. His duties were of two sorts. The first and the more 
ancient, his original function as an officer of the King's house- 
hold, was the devising and managing of court masques, dis- 
guisings, plays, and other entertainments for the amusement of 
the Sovereign and the celebration of festivals and great occa- 
sions. The second duty, that with which we are especially 
concerned, was the licensing and regulating of the drama outside 
the Court, throughout the kingdom, and was of much later 
growth. It is not possible to understand his exercise of this 
second function unless one bears in mind that it was of a twofold 
nature. The Master was a government official, whose duty it was 
to execute the laws and to regulate the stage in accordance with 
the best interests of the state. But his position was also frankly 
a money-making business. He sold licenses as profitably as he 
could ; he devised new extensions of his power and new forms 
of commissions which would increase his income. By virtue 
£> of his royal patent he even exercised the right to sell permis- 
sion to break certain laws, — as in the case of his dispensations 
for performances in Lent. Sometimes he purchased his office 
for a considerable sum, and then it was obviously necessary for 
him to recoup his outlay by the sale of all possible sorts of 
licenses and the securing of various payments from the players. 
Though such an administration of a government office is not 
considered quite the proper thing to-day, it was usual enough 
and not especially frowned upon under Elizabeth and the 




Stuarts. It is perhaps easier to understand the Master's exercise 
of the powers granted by his patents, when one compares other 
"dispensing patents " of a somewhat similar sort, common enough 
among the many grants of monopoly made during the period, 
which we touched on in considering the royal patents to players. 
These licensing or dispensing patents were awarded as favors 
or sold by the Crown. They authorized the patentees either to 
license others to do something, or to issue, upon receipt of com- 
position, pardons for infractions of some penal law, or to grant 
dispensations from the penalties of a certain statute, in return for 
a fee. 1 This virtually enabled offenders to bargain, either peri- 
odically or once for all, for the right to break the law. Exam- 
ples are numerous. An ordinary licensing patent was granted 
to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1588-1589, authorizing him "to make 
licenses for keeping of taverns and retailing of wines throughout 
England." 2 A striking case of a dispensing patent is that 
to Thomas Cornwallis in 1 596-1 597, empowering him "to make 
grants and licenses for keeping of gaming-houses, and using of 
unlawful games, contrary to the statute of 33 Henry VIII." 3 
Laws were apparently sometimes passed in order to make possible 
profitable grants of the right to break them. Regulations were 
made, for example, concerning the tanning of leather, which 
could not possibly be followed ; and then Sir Edward Dyer was 
authorized to pardon and dispense with penalties for the viola- 
tion of this statute. In exercising this right he and his deputies 
gained an evil reputation for extortion. 4 

It was very natural that a similar practice should gradually 
grow up in the dramatic world, as the Master of the Revels strove 
to extend profitably the vague powers granted by his patents. 
As we have seen, the Statute 1 James I, cap. 7, finally took away 
from all other personages the right to license traveling players 
and the other wanderers on the highways who were engaged in 
legitimate business, and left only the license by the Crown. 5 
By virtue of the royal patent delegating authority to him, the 
Master naturally granted licenses to traveling players, — "dis- 

1 Price, English Patents of Monopoly, 12. 7 Ibid., 146. 

* Ibid., 147. * Ibid., 13-14. 

8 See above, p. 28. 


pensations" from the penalties of this statute. Similar power to 
license others of the wanderers was granted. There is a men- 
tion of a patent under James I for " the licensing of pedlars and 
petty chapmen," ' and a much closer analogy to the Master's 
powers is found in the case of the royal patents to the " Master 
of the King's Games of Bears, Bulls and Dogs," which were 
apparently interpreted as granting power to license bear-baitings 
and bull-baitings in Paris Garden and by traveling showmen. 2 

It is scarcely probable that the original grant of authority 
outside the Court to the Master of the Revels was a conscious 
inauguration of a dispensing patent of this sort, or even that he 
himself, in extending his jurisdiction, consciously endeavored 
to make it such. The analogous cases which I have cited merely 
go to show how natural, how consistent with the customs of the 
time, was the growth of the Master's licensing power, — uncon- 
stitutional as it may appear at first sight. With them in mind 
it will perhaps be easier to understand the history of the develop- 
ment of his authority. 

The loss of many important documents makes the tracing of 
this history a difficult task. Had we, for instance, the vanished 
office books of Tilney and Buc, the earlier Masters, we might 
find that their activity was as great as that of the busy Herbert, 
whose intermeddling in dramatic affairs shines out so vividly 
from the pages of his Register. If the Patent Rolls, moreover, 
and additional town records, are ever accessible in complete 
and orderly form, it will be possible to trace the Masters more 
clearly. As it is, much of their history must be conjectural. 

In the Court of the early kings an important duty was that 
of managing the royal pastimes. The Lord Chamberlain, as 
head of the great branch of the royal household known as the 
Chamber, had charge of the Sovereign's amusements, — of his 
hunting by day and his revels and shows by night. As the Court 
grew more splendid and more complex, various subordinate offi- 
cials gradually developed, to take charge of branches of this ser- 
./ vice. The Master of the Revels first appeared under Henry VII. 

1 Price, op. cit., 167. 

'Collier, Alleyn Memoirs, 70 ft., 99 ft.; Alleyn Papers, 26; Henslowe's 
Diary, 212; Hcnslowe Papers, 1, 4, 12, 97 ft. 


Originally he seems to have been appointed temporarily, 
from among the officials already in attendance at Court, to devise 
and superintend the disguisings, masques, or other entertain- 
ments on special occasions. This practice continued in the reign 
of Henry VIII, until finally, as the office grew in importance under 
that splendor-loving king, a permanent Master was appointed 
in 1545, in the person of Sir Thomas Cawarden. The depart- 
ment continued, of course, to be under the general authority of 
the Lord Chamberlain. 1 

Sir Thomas Cawarden's patent is of importance and interest 
as the model on which the patents of appointment of all subse- 
quent Masters were based. The date is March 11, 1545, but 
the appointment is to run from March 16 of the preceding year. 
Cawarden is named "Magister Jocorum, Revelorum et Masco- 
rum omnium et singulorum nostrorum, vulgariter nuncupatorum 
Revells and Masks." The appointment is for life. Cawarden 
is granted all houses, mansions, rights, liberties, and advantages 
appertaining to the office, and a salary of £10 per year. 2 
The phrasing of this patent was followed almost exactly in those 
of later Masters. The powers conferred are, it will be noticed, 
somewhat ill denned and capable of various interpretations. 
By extraordinary stretching of the phrase, Herbert later held that 
his very wide claims to licensing power over all sorts of shows 
throughout the kingdom were justified by the words " Jocorum, 
Revelorum et Mascorum." 3 

During the lifetime of Sir Thomas Cawarden, however, it 
occurred to no one to extend the Master's jurisdiction over plays 
outside the Court. He was busied only with the devising and 
presentation of masques and shows for the entertainment of the 
Sovereign. 4 He lived to superintend Elizabeth's coronation 
festivities, and died on August 29, 1559. 5 His successor, Sir 

1 On the origin of the Office of the Revels see Chalmers, Apology, 471-472; 
Chambers, Mediaval Stage, I, 404-405, and Tudor Revels, 1-5, 52. 

3 The patent is printed in Rymer, Feedera, XV, 62-63, an< ^ noted in Letters 
and Papers of Henry VIII, XX, 213. 

3 Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 60. 

* On the Office under Cawarden see Chambers, Tudor Revels, 9 ff. 

s Ibid., 18. Fleay's incorrect date for Cawarden's death leads him into 
serious error. {London Stage, 43.) He is followed by Schelling. (Elizabethan 
Drama, I, 1 01-102.) 


Thomas Benger, was formally appointed by a patent of January 
18, 1560, similar to Cawarden's, with the additional provision 
that it was to hold in the reigns of her Majesty's successors. 1 
Benger was apparently a very inefficient Master. No patent 
appointing a successor was issued until after his death, which 
occurred in 1577; but, as we learn from the Revels Accounts, 
he gave up all active exercise of his functions by the summer of 
1572. After this date he no longer signed the accounts. His 
duties were performed by the subordinate officers, especially by 
Thomas Blagrave, the Clerk of the Revels, who served as Acting 
Master from November, 1573, until Christmas, 1579, by special 
appointment of the Lord Chamberlain. 2 Under Benger's in- 
efficient management the Office had apparently become disor- 
ganized, and in 1573 Lord Burghley took up the question of its 
reorganization. To this end, he seems to have called for reports 
or suggestions from the three officers then in charge, — the Clerk 
Comptroller, the Clerk, and the Yeoman. Their three reports 
survive in the Lansdowne MSS. and throw an interesting light 
on the organization and business of the Office at this time. 3 
From our point of view they are especially noteworthy as show- 
ing that in 1573 it was busied solely with the preparation of court 
entertainments : the care of costumes, the purchasing of proper- 
ties and supplies, — such were the chief concerns of the Revels. 
In the suggestion made by the three officers for the reformation 
of the department, there is no proposal that they should have 
jurisdiction or censorship over the drama in the outer world. 
Buggin, the Clerk Comptroller, suggests, it is true, that the power 
of the officers should be strengthened by a commission authoriz- 
ing them to enforce service from the Queen's subjects/ — that 
is, to compel workmen to serve the Office in emergencies. This 
was apparently to be somewhat similar in nature to the com- 
missions authorizing the Master of the Chapel to "take up" 
singing boys, and those empowering other departments of the 

1 Printed in Rymer, Fcedera, XV, 565. 

2 Cunningham, Revels Accounts, 48, 77; Chambers, Tudor Revels, 51-52. 

' All three are printed at length in Chambers, op. cit., 31 ff. The first is given 
in Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 68 ff. Mr. Chambers dates them all 
— rightly, I think — 1573. 

* Chambers, op. cit., 41-42. 


household to command provisions and cartage. 1 Perhaps the 
Revels had already enjoyed such authority on special occasions. 
The suggestion bore fruit, as we shall see, in Tilney's commis- 
sion of 1 5S1, which granted him wide powers of this sort. 

Though no proposal was yet made for the bestowal of the cen- 
sorship on the Revels Office, the germ that was to develop into 
its extensive jurisdiction was already visible. The Master fre- 
quently called outside companies of actors before him, and had 
them rehearse plays which might be suitable for court presenta- 
tion, in order that he might select the best. 2 He also looked over 
numerous plays in manuscript, to judge of their merits. Many 
needed alteration of some sort, in length or substance, before they 
were quite suitable for the Court. The responsibility of seeing 
that no offensive word reached her Majesty's ear rested, of course, 
on the Master, and he made many changes in the dramas to be 
produced. In 1571 we find in the Revels Accounts a list of six 
plays given at Court, "all whiche vi playes being chosen owte of 
many, and founde to be the best that were to be had, the same 
also being often perused and necessarely corrected and amended 
by all thafforeseide officers." 3 In subsequent years "perusing 
and reforming of plays" appears frequently in the Accounts. 4 

In such summoning of outside companies before him to act 
plays for his approval, and in the expurgation of the manuscripts 
submitted, lay the germ of the Master's censoring and licensing 
power. His jurisdiction over performances outside the Court 
was formally begun in the patent granted by Queen Elizabeth to 
the Earl of Leicester's players in 1574. 5 These fortunate actors, 
servants of the Queen's favorite, were, as we have seen, given 
by patent under the Great Seal of England the right to perform 
in all cities and towns of the realm, even within London itself, 
without molestation from the authorities, any act, statute, proc- 
lamation or commandment to the contrary notwithstanding. 
Such an extraordinary favor had never been granted to any 

1 See above, pp. 32-33; and Chambers, Tudor Revels, 51. 

2 Cunningham, Revels Accounts, 39, 159. Plays were sometimes rehearsed 
before the Lord Chamberlain, for his approval. Ibid., 120, 136. 

'Ibid., 13. *See, for example, ibid., 87, 92, 198. 

* See above, pp. 33-34- 




actors before, and it was but natural that the Crown should wish 
to have these players bound in some way not to abuse their 
privilege. If the local officials were not to have jurisdiction over 
them, it was necessary that some Crown officer should see that 
they performed nothing harmful to the good order of the state. 
Obviously the Master of the Revels, already used to such super- 
vision of plays, and already the director of these very players in 
their frequent appearances at Court, was the natural person to be 
intrusted with this function. The actors were therefore permitted 
to perform only on condition that all their plays "be by the Mas- 
ter of our Revels, for the time being, before seen and allowed." 

At the date of the granting of this first portion of licensing 
power, the Revels Office was, as we have seen, in a somewhat 
unsettled state. Benger was not performing his duties, the 
Clerk, Blagrave, was serving as Acting Master, and the reor- 
ganization of the Office was under consideration. In these cir- 
cumstances it is not probable that any considerable effort was 
made to develop and extend this profitable jurisdiction. But 
within a few years the situation was radically changed. In 
1577 Benger died; in December, 1578, the name of Edmund 
Tilney first appears as signing the Revels Accounts ; ' and on 
July 24, 1579, a patent was issued formally appointing Tilney 
Master, and providing that his service was to date from the 
preceding Christmas. The terms of his patent are precisely like 
Cawarden's, except for a few slight verbal changes and the 
additional provision, as in Benger's, that it is to hold in succeed- 
ing reigns; no mention is made of the new censoring power 
conferred on the Master by the patent to Leicester's company 
five years before. 2 

The new Master, Edmund Tilney, was of good family, a con- 
nection of Lord Howard of Effingham, and with some literary 
achievement to his credit, — The Flower of Friendship, a dia- 
logue on matrimony which he had dedicated to Elizabeth in 
1568. Under his energetic hand the reorganization of the Revels 
Office seems to have proceeded rapidly. He evidently saw the 

1 Cunningham, Revels Accounts, 124. 

2 Tilney's patent is printed at length in Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Rec- 
ords, 2-3. 


necessity for a commission granting him power to enforce service 
from workmen, such as the Clerk Comptroller had recom- 
mended in 1573; and he must have perceived some of the great 
possibilities in the extension of his jurisdiction over performances 
outside the Court. The fruit of his efforts appeared in the very 
favorable patent granted him on December 24, 1581. 1 

This is entitled "Commissio specialis pro Edo. Tylney, Ar. 
Magistro Revellorum." It differs from the patents of appoint- 
ment in various ways. In the first place it is in English instead 
of Latin ; it is a grant of special powers to Tilney personally from 
the Queen, and is not mentioned as holding in the reigns of her 
Majesty's successors. Apparently it had to be renewed in the 
case of succeeding Masters, and we shall find in later years that 
such declarations of the powers of the Revels Office were made 
from time to time by the Crown and the Lord Chamberlain. 
This commission resembles in nature, as we have suggested, the 
grants issued at intervals to the Masters of the Chapel Children, 
authorizing them to "take up" singing boys for the Queen's 

The patent first empowers Tilney to take and retain at compe- 
tent wages for the royal service, in all parts of England, all such 
painters, embroiderers, tailors, and other workmen as may be 
needed in the Revels Office ; and to take all necessary materials 
and carriage at a reasonable price. If any persons refuse to 
serve, or withdraw from the work, Tilney is authorized to imprison 
them as long as he may think fit. The workmen of the Revels 
are to be under the special protection of the Queen during their 
time of service, and are to be freed from prison by the Master's 
authority, should they be arrested at the suit of any other persons. 
They are also to be released from the obligation of completing 
any other contract or work which they may have undertaken, until 
they shall have ended their service in the Revels. 

Then follows the clause already quoted, 2 giving the Master 
power, in all places in England, to summon all players, with their 
playmakers, that they may recite any of their plays before him 

1 First printed from the Patent Rolls by T. E. Tomlins, in the Shakspere 
Society Papers, III, i tT. It is also in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 
247-249, note; and in Halliwell-Phillipps, Illustrations, pt. i. 2 pp. 16-17. 


or his Deputy, "whom wee ordeyne, appointe and authorise by 
these presentesof all suche Showes, Plaies, Plaiersand Playmakers, 
together with their playinge places, to order and reforme, auc- 
torise and put downe, as shalbe thought meete or unmeete unto 
himselfe or his said Deputie in that behalfe." The power granted 
him of imprisoning all recalcitrant actors or playwrights is also 
notable. "And also likewise we have by these presentes au- 
thorised and com'aunded the said Edmunde Tvlnev, that in case 
any of them, whatsoever they be, will obstinatelie refuse, upon 
warninge unto them given by the said Edmunde, or his sufficient 
Deputie, to accomplishe and obey our comaundement in this 
behalfe, then it shalbe lawful to the said Edmunde, or his suffi- 
cient Deputie, to attache the partie or parties so offendinge and 
him or them to com'ytt to Warde, to remaine without bayle or 
mayneprise, untill suche tyme as the same Edmunde Tylney or 
his sufficient Deputie shall thinke the tyme of his or theire ym- 
prisonment to be punishment sufficient for his or their said 
offence in that behalfe ; and that done to inlarge him or them so 
beinge imprisoned at their plaine libertie without any losse, 
penaltie, forfeiture or other damages in this behalfe to be sus- 
teyned or borne by the said Edmunde Tylney, or his Deputie; 
any Acte, Statute, Ordinance or P'vision heretofore had or made 
to the contrarie hereof in any wise not withstandinge." Finally, 
all officials are commanded to aid the Master in the execution of 
his duties. 

It is difficult to discover just how far and how rapidly Tilney 
succeeded in extending and defining the vague and general powers 
conferred on him by this patent, — in having his authority to 
license plays, players, and playhouses recognized throughout the 
kingdom. In the face of the opposition of the powerful Corpo- 
ration of London, the growth of his authority within that city 
was necessarily slow. In the spring of 1582, a few months after 
the issue of his special commission, the Privy Council apparently 
did not recognize him as having any jurisdiction over plays in 
London, for, as we have seen, they requested the Lord Mayor to 
appoint some proper person to overlook and license plays to be 
performed in the city. 1 In fact, during all the agitation of the 

1 See above, p. 17. 


years 1582- 1584, concerning the admission of actors into Lon- 
don, the Master of the Revels is never mentioned in the volumi- 
nous correspondence between the Privy Council and the city ! 
authorities. 1 

But Tilney was already claiming authority over plays and 
players throughout the kingdom almost as extensive as that 
asserted by his successors. He was certainly licensing players 
to travel, for, as we found, a company appeared at Leicester in 
1583, bearing a commission signed by him and dated Febru- 
ary 6 of that year. From the abstract of parts of this document 
given in the Leicester records, confused though it is, one can see 
that he was claiming the exclusive right to license players and 
allow plays. 

"In w ch Indenture there ys one article that all Justices, Maiors, 
Sherifs, Bayllyfs, Constables, and all other her Officers, Ministers & 
suhiects whatsoev' to be aydinge & assistinge unto the said Edmund 
Tilneye, his Deputies & Assignes, 2 attendinge & havinge due regard 
unto suche parsons as shall disorderly intrude themselves into any 
the doings & acc'ons before menc'oned, not beinge reformed quali- 
fyed & bound to the orders p'scribed by the said Edmund Tyllneye. 
These shalbee therefore not only to signifye & geve notice unto all 
& ev'y her said Justices &c that non of there owne p'tensed auc- 
thoritye intrude themselves & presume to showe forth any suche 
playes, enterludes, tragedies, comedies, or shewes in any place w th in 
this Realm, w th oute the ord'lye allowance thereof under the hand of 
the sayd Edmund. 

" Nota. No play is to be played, but such as is allowed by the sayd 
Edmund, & by his hand at the latter end of the said booke they doe 
play." 3 

The players who carried this license became involved in a dis- 
pute at Leicester with the Earl of Worcester's company, who 
attacked the validity of their commission. The objection was 
not, however, against the authority of the Master to issue such 
licenses, but was based, apparently, on the fact that Haysell, 
the chief player, to whom the commission had been granted, 

1 On March 10, 1583, Tilney was summoned to Court to select the players 
for the Queen's new company (Cunningham, Revels Accounts, 186); but this 
was naturally a part of his duty as manager of court entertainments. 

2 Tilney's license evidently quoted the portion of his commission of 1581 
calling on all officials to assist him in the exercise of his authority. 

s Kelly, Drama in Leicester, 211-212. 





was not present, and the actors bearing it were not really entitled 
to its protection. 1 So chaotic, however, are the pronouns of the 
Leicester scribe, that it is hard to discover just what the ground 
of the quarrel was. 

No other company appeared at Leicester under the Master's 
authorization until 1623. Were the records of other towns 
accessible, it might be possible to ascertain how extensively he 
exercised such authority during the intervening period. 

In London we have no sign of Tilney's activity until 1589. 
Mr. Chambers thinks that by 1587 the Privy Council had al- 
ready begun to regard him as primarily responsible to them for 
the regulation of the theaters, and cites the order for the tempo- 
rary suspension of performances in and about London issued by 
the Council on May 7, 1587, copies of which were sent, according 
to Mr. Dasent's edition of the Council Register, to the Lord 
Mayor, the Justices of the Peace of Surrey, and the Master of the 
Rolls. 2 Mr. Chambers states that " Rolls " must be an error for 
" Revels," and suggests that this is the Master's first appearance 
as regulator of the London drama. 3 But the Master of the Rolls 
was really the official meant, for it appears from the Council 
Register that he exercised the authority of a Justice of the Peace 
in Middlesex. In 1577 similar orders for the suppression of 
plays in that county were sent to him and to the Lieutenant of 
the Tower, who also had jurisdiction in parts of Middlesex, — 
those adjacent to the Tower. 4 There are several other examples 
of the exercise of similar functions by the Master of the Rolls. 5 

Though in the surviving documents the Master of the Revels 
does not appear in this r61e as early as 1587, it is probable that he 
was already exercising some supervision over the London drama. 

1 Kelly, Drama in Leicester, 212. ' Acts, XV, 70. s Tudor Revels, 76. 

* Acts, IX, 388. 

6 On March 2, 1591, the Privy Council, desiring stricter enforcement of the 
regulations against killing and eating flesh without license in Lent, sent orders 
to this effect to the Lord Mayor, to the Justices of the Peace in Surrey who had 
jurisdiction over parts of Southwark, and to " the Master of the Rolls and Thomas 
Barnes, esquire, Justices of Peace for the county of Middlesex." (Acts, XX, 
322-323.) Similarly, on June 23, 1592, when the Council desired to take pre- 
cautions against riots in and about London, it sent orders to the Master of the 
Rolls, among many other Justices of the Peace and various officials. (Acts, 
XXII, 549-55 * •) 


In 1589, when the Martin Marprelatc controversy was treated 
on the stage, Tilncy certainly had something to say about the 
drama in the city, for he appears to have reported to the Privy 
Council that improper plays were being performed ; whereupon 
the Lords ordered the suppression of all plays in London. 
"Where by a l're of your Lordships, directed to Mr. Yongc, it 
appered unto me," wrote the Lord Mayor to Lord Burghley, 
"that it was your ho: pleasure that I sholde geve order for the 
staie of all playes within the cittie, in that Mr. Tilney did utterly 
mislike the same." l 

This Martin Marprelatc trouble and the consequent appoint- 
ment of the censorship commission, of which Tilncy was a mem- 
ber, apparently gave the Master a favorable start on his career ' ' 
as licenser of plays in and about London. Realizing the neces- 
sity of some stricter censorship of the drama, and feeling, ap- - 
parently, that the old system of supervision by the city authori- 
ties was inadequate, the Privy Council established, as we have 
seen, 2 a commission of three persons — the Master of the Revels, 1 &<t [ 
an expert in divinity appointed by the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, and a representative of the city government — to examine, 
expurgate, and license all plays to be given in and about London. 
Even if his colleagues on this commission ever served, they ap- 
parently soon withdrew from active participation in the work. 
The Master, supported by the authority of his royal patents 
and by this new and more explicit grant of power, rapidly 
extended his jurisdiction, and developed the licensing business 
into a profitable one. 

The earliest surviving manuscript showing Tilney's "reforma- 
tions" for public performance — that of Sir Thomas More — 
is dated by Dyce about 1590, the year following the appointment \ 
of the commission. 3 By 1592 Tilney was evidently exercising / 
wide power, and his authority in London was recognized by the 
city officials. It is noticeable that he was now licensing play- 
houses as well as plays. On February 25, 1592, the Aldermen 
wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, informing him of the 
disorders and corruption caused by the performances of the 

1 The letter is printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 34-35. 
* p. 18. 8 See below, pp. 93 ff. 


players in the City, and beseeching his aid for the remedy of these 
abuses. "Further, because Her Majesty must be served at 
certain times by this sort of people, she had granted her Letters 
Patent to Mr. Tilney, her Master of the Revels, by virtue whereof 
he had authority to reform, exercise or suppress all manner of 
players, plays and playhouses, and he had licensed the said 
houses, which before had been open to the Statutes for the punish- 
ment of such disorders. They requested his Grace to call the 
Master of the Revels before him and treat with him as to the 
measures to be devised, that Her Majesty might be served with 
these recreations as she had been accustomed, which might easily 
be done by the private exercise of Her Majesty's own play- 
ers in convenient places, and the City freed from these continual 
disorders." 1 

The Archbishop came promptly to the aid of the City. A few 
days later the Lord Mayor wrote to him, thanking him for the 
trouble he had taken for removing the great inconvenience suf- 
fered by the municipality through the increase of plays and 
players. "As touching the consideration to be made to Mr. 
Tilney for the better effecting the restraint of plays in and about 
the City, a certain number of Aldermen had been appointed to 
confer with him thereon." 2 

An endeavor to raise the necessary funds for this "considera- 
tion" to Mr. Tilney, appears in the proceedings of the Court of 
the Merchant Taylors' Company a few days afterward. On 
March 23 they discussed a "precepte" from the Lord' Mayor, 
which called attention to the evils of plays and suggested "the 
payment of one Anuytie to one Mr. Tylney, mayster of the 
Revelles of the Queene's house, in whose hands the redresse of 
this inconveniency doeth rest, and that those playes might be 
abandoned out of this citie." The Court sympathized, but " way- 
inge the damage of the president and enovacion of raysinge of 
Anuyties upon the companies of London," declined to unloose 
their purse-strings. 3 Whether the other guilds proved more 
generous, and the Mayor was enabled to buy off Tilney from 

1 Remembrancia, 352. 2 Ibid., 353. 

3 Chambers, Tudor Revels, 78, quoting C. M. Clode, History of the Merchant 
Taylors, I, 236. 


licensing these obnoxious performances in the City, I have not 
discovered. It is possible that some such arrangement was 
actually made for a time, for during the next three years there are 
no complaints regarding plays within the city limits. 

According to the modern code Tilney's methods of admin- 
istering his office at this juncture may appear distinctly improper ; 
but I doubt if they were considered especially questionable at 
the time. It was natural that he should desire to make as much 
money as possible from his licensing business. The practice 
of buying oil men from exercising the rights granted by royal 
patents apparently existed in other towns than London. A 
somewhat similar case is found in Leicester in 1579 and 1580, 
when one Johnson, who held the Queen's commission empower- 
ing him to collect the penalty for "unlawful games," was twice 
paid 20s. by the Leicester officials, " ffor that he shoulde not deale 
w Ul in this Towne." l 

During this same year of activity, 1592, Tilney was receiving 
from Henslowc, manager of the Rose, payments for the licensing 
of plays presented by Lord Strange's company at that theater, 
— apparently for seventeen in all, between February 26 and June 
14. 2 The Rose was outside the city limits, and probably not 
included in any arrangement Tilney made with the London 
officials. He was doubtless licensing plays for other theaters 
as well, though of these no record has come down to us. 

For the next six years we have no light on Tilney's activity 
except the fragmentary records of Henslowe's payments to him 
found in the Diary. These indicate that he was still " allowing" 
plays and that he was also licensing playhouses. On January 2, 
1595, Henslowe gave him £10 in payment of a bond and other 
indebtedness; 3 in February, 1596, he noted that the Master was 
paid "all I owe him until this time" ; 4 and between April, 1596, 
and February, 1598, there are frequent records of payments of 
105. per week, apparently for the license of the Rose, — showing 
that Tilney was continuing the licensing of playhouses. 5 In 
January, 1598, there is a payment for the licensing of two plays 

1 Kelly, Drama in Leicester, 208-209. 

7 Henslcrue's Diary, 12. See below, p. 79. 3 Henslowe's Diary, p. 39. 

* Ibid., p. 2S. 6 Ibid., 40, 46, 54, 72. See below, p. 73. 


for the Lord Admiral's company. 1 It is evident that Tilney's 
business was progressing favorably. 

The Privy Council, however, did not yet recognize him as the 
person through whom orders regulating the drama should be 
transmitted, for on January 28, 1593, when, because of the 
plague, they forbade plays in and about London, they sent their 
commands only to the Lord Mayor and the Justices of the Peace 
of Middlesex and Surrey. 2 Nor did they mention the Master, so 
far as we know, in granting traveling licenses, in the spring of that 
year, to the companies of the Earl of Sussex and Lord Strange. 3 
He does not appear, moreover, in the troubles and complaints of 
1594 and of 1597, resulting finally in the order — never enforced 
— for the destruction of all theaters. 4 

But in 1598 Tilney appears prominently. The order of the 
Privy Council concerning plays issued on February 19 of that 
year was sent to the Master of the Revels, as well as to the 
Justices of the Peace of Middlesex and Surrey. Two companies, 
those of the Lord Admiral and the Lord Chamberlain, had been 
especially authorized by the Privy Council to perform, in order 
that they might prepare themselves properly to appear as usual 
before the Queen. A third company, the Council was informed, 
"have by waie of intrusion used likewise to play, having neither 
prepared any plaie for her Majestie, nor are bound to you, the 
Master of the Revelles, for perfourming such orders as have bin 
prescribed, and are enjoyned to be observed by the other two com- 
panies before mentioned." The Lords therefore order that this 
third company be suppressed, and none allowed to play but the 
Lord Admiral's and the Lord Chamberlain's. 5 The case is 
significant. The companies used for court performances were 
evidently granted special privileges, — amounting to a monopoly 
of playing. As in the case of the patent to Leicester's players 
in 1574, in return for these favors, they were bound to obey the 
authority of the Master. The Council thus guarded against 
any abuse of the privileges granted. At this time it seems likely 
that the players had actually given a money bond as surety 

1 Henslowe's Diary, 83. 2 Acts, XXIV, 31-32. 3 Ibid., 200, 212. 

4 See below, pp. 187-188. 

1 Acts, XXVIII, 327-328. Fleay conjectures that the third company was 
Pembroke's. {London Stage, 158.) 


for their obedience, and that this had been for some years the 
practice of the favored companies. Such seems the most prob- 
able explanation of the entry in Henslowc's Diary on January 2, 
1505. in the form of a receipt signed by one of Tilney's servants 
on behalf of his master, acknowledging Henslowc's payment of 
£10 "in full payment of a bond of one hundred pounds," 
and of whatsoever was due until the following Ash Wednesday. 1 

The other payments to the Master of the Revels noted in 
Henslowc's Diary appear to be also in behalf of privileged com- 
panies, — those in 1592 for Lord Strange's, which performed 
at Court and was granted a special warrant by the Council in 
1593 ; and in 1598 and later years on behalf of the Lord Admiral's 
players, one of the two companies granted a monopoly of per- 
formances in and about London. 2 We find, moreover, that in 
preparing for his new and privileged theater, the Fortune, Hens- 
lowe had some dealings or consultation with the Master of the 
Revels, 3 and that he afterwards paid him £$ a month for the 
license of this playhouse. 4 

All these facts seem to indicate that, though the Master's 
authority extended more or less over other players as well, the 
companies enjoying privileges granted by the Crown were espe- 
cially under his jurisdiction. This was very natural. Even 
if they were not actually "bound" by the terms of their patent 
or warrant, as in 1574 and 1598, they would obviously be in- 
clined to obey the Crown official. Disobedience might result 
in the withdrawal of their privileges, and their exclusion from 
the court performances, which the Master directed. It was the 
necessary preparation for these appearances before the Queen 
which was the reason alleged for granting them the right to play 
in public. Under the Stuarts also, as we shall see, the com- 
panies enjoying royal patents were especially obliged to obey y 
the Master. 5 

1 p. 39. I infer from this that part of the £10 was a payment on the bond, 
part for some licensing charges for performances until Lent. 

2 Henslowe's Diary, 12, 83, 85, 90, 103, 109, 116, 117, 121, 129, 130, 132, 148, 
160, 161. 3 Ibid., 158. 

* Ibid., 132, 160, 161. For further discussion of Henslowe's payments to 
the Master of the Revels, see below, pp. 73, 79 ff. 
& See below, pp. 63-64 


Besides the important council order of 1598, there is another 
reason for considering that year a significant one. When Her- 
bert was endeavoring to reestablish the Master's jurisdiction 
after the Restoration, he based his claims largely on the prece- 
dent of his predecessors, and cited the names of certain plays 
licensed by Tilney in 1598, implying, apparently, that by this 
date the Master was fully established as censor. 1 

From henceforth he continued to exercise over the stage a 
general jurisdiction, which grew as the years went on. In 1600 
we find that he, in conjunction with the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury and the Bishop of London, had arranged a treaty between 
the parish of St. Saviour's and some of the Bankside theaters, 
whereby the players were to contribute money for the parish 
poor. 2 Before issuing their orders for the restriction of theaters 
and plays in 1600, the Privy Council had evidently consulted 
with Tilney, for they state that he has informed them — wrongly, 
as the case turned out — that the new Fortune was not to increase 
the number of theaters, but was to take the place of the Curtain, 
which was to be torn down. 3 

The Master's importance, however, was not yet fully estab- 
lished. In the theatrical regulations which the Council now 
promulgated, no mention was made of his authority. The Lord 
Mayor and the Justices of Middlesex were ordered to enforce the 
rules, and were reproved in December, 1601, for their laxness. 
In March, 1601, the Mayor was commanded to suppress plays in 
Lent, and in the following May the Justices of Middlesex were 
directed to censor plays at the Curtain. 4 Evidently the Master 
of the Revels was not yet considered, as he was later, the proper 
agent to carry out the orders of the Council in and about Lon- 
don. Probably, however, the two companies granted a monop- 
oly by the order of 1600 — the Lord Admiral's and the Lord 
Chamberlain's — were expected to obey him. We know indeed, 
as I have already mentioned, that he was being regularly paid 

1 1S21 Variorum, III, 263, note. Possibly Herbert cites 1598 merely because 
the play-books bearing Tilney's license, which were in his possession and which 
were offered as evidence, happened to bear this date. 

2 Extract from the Parish Register, in Chalmers, Apology, 405. 

3 Acts, XXX, 395. * See below, pp. 190 ff. 


for a license for playing at the Fortune, one of the privileged 
theaters. 1 The Curtain, where the Justices were ordered to cen- 
sor, was not occupied by one of the privileged companies, and 
was therefore not especially under the Master's jurisdiction. 

It is clear that by the end of Elizabeth's reign the authority 
of the Revels Office over performances outside the Court was 
fairly well established. The system of royal patents for all 
important companies inaugurated by James, and the concen- 
tration of authority in the Crown by the statute of 1604, obvi- 
ously strengthened the Master's position. As in the past, the 
players enjoying special privileges from the King naturally obeyed 
the Crown officer in charge of dramatic performances. In 
many of the royal patents, indeed, a special proviso was inserted, 
reserving all the rights and privileges granted to the Master of 
the Revels. 2 He now advanced rapidly towards the position of 
sole censor and licenser of plays in and about London. 

In the first few years of James' reign, however, his exclusive 
authority was not yet unquestioned. As we have seen, 3 the royal 
patent to the Children of the Queen's Revels, in January, 1604, 
provided that Samuel Daniel should approve all plays to be 
given by that company. I doubt if Daniel exercised this 
authority to any extent. Eastward Hoe, at least, presented by 
these players about a year later, was apparently not "allowed" 
at all. So Chapman implies in a letter to the Lord Chamber- 
lain, written probably during his imprisonment because of the 
offensive passages in that play. 4 His words suggest also that 
some sort of direct license by the Lord Chamberlain was some- 
times available. "Of all the oversights for which I suffer," 
writes the poet, "none repents me so much as that our unhappie 
booke w-as presented without your Lordshippes allowance, for 
which we can plead nothinge by way of pardon but your Person 
so farr removed from our requirde attendance ; our play so much 
importun'de, and our cleere opinions, that nothinge it contain'd 
could worthely be held offensive." 5 Evidently a license was 

'See above, p. 59. 2 See below, pp. 63-64. 3 p. iq. 

* Possibly this imprisonment, as I shall explain later, was for some other 
offense, and the play presented without license on this occasion not Eastward 
Hoe. See below, pp. 101 ff. 

4 Letter printed in Athenaum, March 30, 1901. 


not considered indispensable, and obviously the Master of the 
Revels, who is not mentioned, was not yet recognized as abso- 
lute censor over the London drama. 

The extension of the powers of the office was apparently has- 
tened by the granting of it, in reversion, to Tilney's nephew, Sir 
George Buc, who soon began to act as his uncle's Deputy. The 
reversion of the Mastership had been promised to Buc by Eliza- 
beth in 1597, 1 and was confirmed by James I in a formal grant 
dated June 23, 1603. This patent recites the grant of the office 
to Tilney in 1579, and the terms on which it was bestowed, as in 
Tilney's patent of that date; it next expressly appoints Buc 
Master of the Revels, and declares that his term of service is to 
begin upon Tilney's death, resignation, or forfeiture of his office. 
It grants all rights, privileges, and pay as in the patents of pre- 
ceding Masters from Cawarden down. 2 Apparently no further 
patent of appointment was necessary; but, by virtue of this 
grant, when Tilney's service ceased Buc's immediately began. 
A "special commission," like that granted to Tilney in 1581, con- 
ferring the same powers, was issued to Buc on the same date 
as his patent of reversion. 3 This would seem to indicate that 
he was even then — in 1603 — actively engaged in the manage- 
ment of the Office, as Tilney's Deputy. We know from an 
entry in the Stationers' Register that he was certainly acting in 
that capacity on November 21, 1606. 4 From the same source 
we learn that Tilney was still serving as Master on June 29, 
1607 ; 5 but some time in this year he probably ceased to perform 

1 Chambers, Tudor Revels, 57. John Lyly had hoped for the Mastership, 
and was much disappointed by the promise to Buc. On Lyly's relation to the 
Revels Office, see Chambers, op. cit., 57 ff. 

2 The patent is printed in Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 14-16. 

3 This is mentioned by Lysons in his Environs (1800-1811 edition), I, 69, 
note, among other items from the Patent Rolls, as a "commission to George 
Buck to take up as many paynters, embroiderers, taylors, &c. as he shall think 
necessary for the office of the Revels. Pat. 1 Jac. pt. 24. June 23." This is 
obviously another patent like Tilney's of 1581 and Astley's of 1622. (See 
below, p. 65.) In the State Papers, Dom., 1603-1610, 16, it is catalogued as a 
"Commission to the Master of the Revels to take up workmen and stuff," 
under the date of June 21, 1603. Probably this is the Privy Seal, and the two 
patents under the Great Seal — this and the reversionary grant — were issued 
on June 23. 

'Arber, Transcript, III, 333. * Ibid., 354. 


his duties, for Buc is referred to as Master of the Revels in the 
edition of Camden's Brittania printed at that date. 1 By Octo- 
ber 4, moreover, Scgar was acting as Buc's Deputy, 2 — a fact 
which would indicate that Buc was now Master. As late as 
March 2, 160S, however, the warrants for the payments of ex- 
penses in the Revels Office were made out in Tilney's name. 3 
In 1610, at all events, his death left Buc in undisputed possession 
of the Office. 4 

Buc was a man of literary interests, author of various writings, 
including a treatise entitled The Third University of England 
and some commendatory verses prefixed to Watson's Hekatom- 
pathia. He apparently took his office very seriously, for he 
wrote, as he himself tells us, a long and " particular commentary" 
on the ''Art of Revels," — unfortunately lost. 5 His energy and 
interest are apparent in the extension of the powers of the Revels 
Office. Evidently he desired to have more explicit authority 
over the companies patented by the Crown, and to make sure 
that their privileges should not weaken his rights. The earliest 
patents of James' reign do not mention the Master; but that 
granted in 1606 to the Prince's company contains the following 
proviso : — 

"Provided ahvaies, and our wyll and pleasure ys, that all auctoritie, 
power, priviledges, and profittes whatsoever, belonging and properlie 
appertaining to the Maister of our Revells, in respect of his office, 
and everie clause, article, or graunt contained within the letters 
patent, or commission, which have heretofore byn graunted or directed 
by the late Queene Elizabeth, our deere sister, or by ourselves, to 
our welbeloved servantes, Edmonde Tilney, Maister of the Office of 
our saide Revells, or to Sir George Bucke, Knight, or to either of them, 
in possession or reversion, shall be, remayne, and abide entire and 
in full force, estate, and vertue, and in as ample sorte as yf this our 
commission had never been made." 6 

A similar proviso is contained in the patents granted in 1609 
to the Queen's company, 7 in 1610 to the Duke of York's, 8 and in 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 57, note. 2 Arber, Transcript, III, 391. 

3 Stale Papers, Dom., 1603-1610, 391, 410. * Ibid., 652. 

6 See Chambers, Tudor Revels, 59, note. 
8 Shakspere Society Papers, IV, 43. 7 Ibid., 46. 8 Ibid., 48. 


1613 to the Elector's. 1 According to Sir Henry Herbert's claims, 
there was a like clause in those issued in 1620 and in 1630-1631. 2 
It is noteworthy that none of the three patents to the King's 
company — in 1603, 1619, and 1625 — contains such a proviso. 
Possibly these players, as members of the royal household, were 
so obviously under the Master's authority that no specific men- 
tion of it was necessary. Sometimes the Master's approval was 
sought before the issuing of a patent, as in 161 5, when Buc wrote 
to the Lord Chamberlain's secretary, consenting to the proposed 
patent for Daniel "as being without prejudice to the rights of 
his ornce." 3 

While thus securing his rights over the patented companies, 
Buc was extending his licensing power in various ways. Without 
any specific authority, so far as we know, he began in 1606 to 
license plays for printing, and nearly all the dramas entered in the 
Stationers' Register during the next thirty years were authorized 
by the Revels Office. 4 Buc also penetrated to other fields besides 
the drama, and found profit in authorizing various kinds of 
shows. In 1610, for example, he licensed three men '"to shew 
a strange lion brought to do strange things, as turning an ox 
to be roasted." 5 Tilney had long before received monthly 
payments for licenses for established theaters ; but Buc advanced 
to the extent of selling a permit for the erection of a new theater 
within London — in Whitcfriars — a transaction for which he 
received £20 in 1613. 6 These scattered facts which have come 
down to us show the development of the Master's jurisdiction. 
From the quotations from his Office Book made by Herbert, 
and the surviving manuscripts showing his license to act, we 
know that he was continuing to censor and license plays for 

On April 3, 161 2, Sir John Astley, or Ashley, was granted the 
reversion of the Mastership, in a patent like Buc's of 1603, to 
take effect on the latter's death or withdrawal from office. 7 
On October 5, 162 1, a similar reversionary grant was made 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, 45. 

1 Halliwcll-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 93. See Appendix. 

3 State Papers, Dom., 1611-1618, 294. * See below, pp. 84 ff. 

' State Papers, Dom., 1603-1610, 631. * 1S21 Variorum, III, 52, note. 

7 Printed in Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 11-13. 


to Ben Jonson, who was to serve on the death of both Buc and 
Astley, but who, dying before the latter, never profited by his 
appointment. 1 In 1622 Buc, old and enfeebled in mind, ceased 
to act, 2 and Astley took up the office. Buc died on September 
22, 1023. On May 22, 1622, a special commission was given to 
Astley, precisely like that granted to Tilney in 1581, 3 and in 
November the Lord Chamberlain issued a "Declaration of the 
Ancient Powers of the Office." We know of this latter document 
only from Herbert's mention of it after the Restoration. 4 Pre- 
sumably it resembled the declaration made by the Lord Cham- 
berlain at this later date, notifying all Mayors, Justices, and other 
officials that no players or other showmen should be allowed to 
perform without a license from the Revels Office. 5 

Astley acted as Master for only a few months. In July, 1623, 
Sir Henry Herbert purchased the office from him for £150 per 
year; 6 and in the next month, as he tells us, was "received" by 
the King as Master of the Revels. 7 James, that is, apparently 
recognized and approved the transfer of the office. As Mr. Fleay 
plausibly suggests, 8 the change in the form of entry in the Revels 
Office Book indicates that on July 27, 1623, Herbert was in 
charge. On September 3 Astley for the last time licensed a play 
for printing. 9 From henceforth until the Civil War Herbert was 
in undisputed possession of the office, and officially recognized 
as Master of the Revels. Nevertheless, Astley was technically 

1 See Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 39 ff. There was also a rever- 
sionary grant of the office, apparently, to William Painter, on July 29, 1622, to 
take effect after Jonson's. State Papers, Dom., 1619-1623, 432. 

2 State Papers, Dom., 1619-1623, 366. 

3 Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 52-56. It is not a patent of appoint- 
ment, as Hazlitt states, but a grant of special powers to the man who is already 
Master, and who is mentioned as such in the opening of this patent. In the 
State Papers the date is given as May 6. (State Papers, Dom., 1619-1623, 386.) 
The reversionary grant was the patent of appointment. A Privy Seal was also 
issued on May 22, 1622, directing the payment of certain Revels funds to Astley, 
and announcing that Buc was incapable, because of sickness, of performing his 
duties, and that the Mastership had been conferred on Astley. See Collier, 
English Dramatic Poetry, I, 403-405. 

* Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 91. s Ibid., 59. 

6 Cunningham, Revels Accounts, xlix. See also Chalmers, Apology, 495, note. 

7 Warner, Epistolary Curiosities, I, 3, note. 

8 London Stage, 301, 310. • Arber, Transcript, IV, 103. 



Master until his death on January 13, 1641. In 1629 a rever- 
sionary grant of the office had been made to Herbert and Simon 
Thelwall jointly, and by virtue of this they came formally and 
technically into possession on Astley's death. 1 

This rather confused history of grants is of comparatively little 
importance from our point of view, but the facts of Herbert's 
administration, which lasted from July, 1623, until the outbreak 
of the Civil War, and technically for some years after the Resto- 
ration, are of the greatest significance. Sir Henry Herbert was 
of a noble and famous family, brother to George Herbert and to 
Lord Herbert of Cherbury, and kinsman to William Herbert, 
Earl of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlain from 161 7 to 1630, and 
to his brother and successor in that office, Philip Herbert, Earl 
of Pembroke and Montgomery. This connection with his 
chiefs, the Lord Chamberlains, was doubtless of great advantage 
to Sir Henry. The survival of portions of Herbert's Office 
Book or Register, and the declarations made by him after the 
Restoration, when he was endeavoring to reestablish his rights, 
reveal to us many of the workings of the Office in a vivid and 
detailed manner which we can never hope to realize in the years 
of Tilney and Buc. 2 During Herbert's administration the Mas- 
tership was at the height of its power and importance. This 
seems the fitting time, therefore, to expound in detail the or- 

1 See the history of these grants given by Herbert in his suit for the reestablish- 
ment of his jurisdiction after the Restoration. {Dramatic Records, 39-42.) 
It is noteworthy that he bases his claims on these patents of appointment, — all 
in terms of the grant to Cawarden, — and that he does not cite the "special 
commissions," such as Tilney's of 1581 and Astley's of 1622. See also ibid., 60. 

2 Sir Henry's Office Book, often referred to as MS. Herbert, was found in the 
same chest with the MS. Memoirs of Lord Herbert of Cherbury. It contained, 
Malone tells us, " an account of almost every piece exhibited at any of the 
theatres from August, 1623, to the commencement of the Rebellion." {1821 
Variorum, III, 57, note.) Malone and Chalmers made use of this precious doc- 
ument, but its whereabouts is now unknown. As it was already in a molder- 
ing condition when seen by Malone, it has perhaps since perished entirely. 
The extracts from it given by Chalmers and Malone are of the greatest value. 

Buc's Office Book, we learn from Herbert, was burned. (Chalmers, Supple- 
mental Apology, 203, note.) 

Many of the documents concerning Herbert's suits after the Restoration are 
printed in Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, and some in 1S21 Variorum, 


gani/.ation and operation of the Office, so far as it dealt with the 
regulation of the drama. 

The Revels Office, since early in its history, had included, 
besides the Master, a Clerk Comptroller, a Clerk, a Yeoman, 
and various subordinate officers. These were concerned with 
the making and care of costumes and properties, the purchasing 
of supplies, and other details of the management of court enter- 
tainments. Materials were stored and the work carried on in a 
building especially devoted to the Revels. The Office moved 
frequently, being located at various times in Warwick Inn, the 
Charterhouse, Blackfriars, the Priory of St. John of Jerusalem 
in Clerkenwell, and St. Peter's Hill, Doctor's Commons. The 
officers were paid regular fees according to their patents, and 
besides these were given various wages and allowances and an 
official residence. The Master's fee, as specified in his patent, 
was £10 a year, but this represented only a small fraction of his 
perquisites. Tilney received an extra recompense of £100 a 
vear, and though this was apparently not continued to the later 
Masters, they were allowed very considerable sums for extra 
attendance, "diet," lodgings, and various expenses. 1 

With all the intricacies of the Revels Accounts and the internal 
workings of the Office, we are not here concerned. The sub- 
ordinate officials just mentioned appear to have confined them- 
selves to their original function, — the preparation of court en- 
tertainments. The Master succeeded in keeping in his own 
hands the more profitable side of his business, — the licensing 
of public performances. In this he was assisted by his Deputy, 
who occasionally read, censored, and "allowed" plays in place 
of his chief ; and in an humbler degree by Messengers of the 
Office and by his personal servants, who collected fees for him 
and carried his orders to the players. Sometimes he was served 
also by "Messengers of the Chamber," who summoned for him 
recalcitrant actors. 

As the government official especially in charge of the stage, 
the Master was recognized as the proper person to transmit to 
the players the commands of the King and the Privy Council. 

1 See Chambers, Tudor Revels, 67 ff., and Warner, Epistolary Curiosities, 
I, 180, 182. 


For example, when the deaths from the plague rose high, the 
Lord Chamberlain sent to Herbert an order for the suppres- 
sion of plays in London, and he in turn despatched his messenger 
to the various companies, bearing his "warrants" for their cessa- 
tion. Such, at least, was the procedure in 1636, and we may 
assume that it was the usual one. 1 Similarly, when the Council 
issued its orders for the closing of the theaters in Lent, these were 
"signified" to the players by the Master. 2 When the higher 
authorities were displeased at the content of plays, they some- 
times acted through the Master; as in 161 7, when the Coun- 
cil bade him prevent the representation of a play concerning the 
Marquess d'Ancre; 3 and in 1640, when the King commanded 
Herbert to suppress and punish the performance of an unli- 
censed play which reflected on his Majesty. 4 But when the 
Master had licensed a play of which the Council afterwards dis- 
approved, they sometimes acted over his head, arrested the 
players, and called him to account for his indiscretion. A 
striking case of this sort is that of the Game at Chess, in 1624. 5 

Besides transmitting the orders of his superiors, the Master 
exercised extensive authority on his own initiative. His power 
to license players remained always somewhat ill defined. There 
is no clear case of his ever licensing actors for performances in 
and about London. The patented companies who held a prac- 
tical monopoly of the drama in that city may have made it worth 
his while to refrain from any invasion of their exclusive privileges. 
Or perhaps direct royal authority was considered necessary for 
any such intrusion. The French company which performed 
in London in 1635 had special royal permission. 8 Possibly the 
same favor was shown to the French players in 1629, who paid 
Herbert fees for performances. 7 Concerning the "company of 
strangers" who appeared in 1623, we know little. 8 

The litigation regarding Herbert's claims after the Restoration 
bears out this view of the limitation of his jurisdiction, — that 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 239. 

2 Extract from the Council Register in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 
380, note. 

3 See below, p. 113. 4 See below, p. 132. 8 See below, pp. no ff. 
6 1S21 Variorum, III, 121-122, note. ''Ibid., 120, note. 8 See below, p. 77. 


is, that his license alone was not sufficient for players performing 
in London. In a list of the points to be proved he notes, "to 
prove the Licensinge of Playhouses and of Playes to Acte," 
and " to prove the suppressingeof Players and their Obedience" ; ' 
but apparently does not claim the right to license players who have 
no previous commission. On several occasions after the Resto- 
ration the question of Herbert's jurisdiction came up in court, 
and at one of these trials, before a London jury, " the Master of 
Revels was allowd' the correction of Plaics and Fees for soe 
docing ; but not to give Plaiers any licence or authoritie to play, 
it being provd' that no Plaiers were ever authorizd' in London or 
Westminster, to play by the Commession of the Master of the 
Revels; but by authoritie immediately from the Crowne." 2 

To the London companies patented by the King, however, 
the Master of the Revels sold other licenses of various sorts. 
He seems to have issued to them special traveling commissions, 
which were probably renewed yearly. There was an entry, at 
least, in Herbert's Register, of his granting to the King's com- 
pany on July i, 1625, a "confirmation of their patent to travel 
for a year." 3 When some of the actors of the privileged 
companies got together a temporary organization for touring 
purposes, it is probable that they generally secured a special 
commission from the Master. 1 

Herbert sold to the established companies also licenses of a 
different sort, — "warrants of protection," such as the Master 
was authorized, by his "special commissions," to issue to men 
employed in his Majesty's Revels. 5 A copy of such a warrant 
issued on December 27, 1624, gives a list of more than a dozen 
names, and certifies that these men are all employed by the 
King's Majesty's servants — that is, the King's company — as 
musicians and other necessary attendants during the time of the 
Revels ; " in which tyme they nor any of them are to be arested, 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 26. 2 Ibid., 48-49. 

3 Chalmers, Supplemental Apology, 185, note. Chalmers' reference here to 
Rymer's Fcedera is to a copy of King Charles' patent to the King's company of 
June 24, 1625. 

4 See such a commission from the Master's chief, the Lord Chamberlain, 
mentioned above, p. 39. 

5 See above, p .51. 


or deteyned under arest, imprisoned, Press'd for Souldiers or 
any other molestacion Whereby they may bee hindered from 
doeing his Majesties service, without leave firste had and ob- 
teyned of the Lord Chamberlyne of his Majesties most honorable 
household, or of the Maister of his Maiesties Revells. And if 
any shall presume to interrupt or deteyne them or any of them 
after notice hereof given by this my Certificate hee is to aunswere 
itt att his vtmost perill. H. Herbert." l 

It was doubtless a similar warrant that Herbert meant when 
he entered in his Register on April 9, 1627, " For a warrant to the 
Musitions of the king's company . . . £1." 2 

Though his authority to license unpatented players in Lon- 
don remained doubtful, the Master's right to license any travel- 
ing actors for performances throughout the country seems to 
have been well established. We have seen an example of its 
exercise under Tilney in 1583. 3 At Leicester in 1623 a company 
"that did belong to the M r of the Revells" was paid for not 
playing. In 1626 players appeared there "going about with a 
Pattent from the M r of the Revells"; in 1630 came three com- 
panies "with a commission from the Master of the Revells"; 
and in 1639, "the servants of the Master of the Revells." 4 
Among the entries of strange shows extracted by Chalmers 
from Herbert's Register, are some which indicate annual li- 
censes of this sort to traveling players: "a warrant to Francis 
Nicolini, an Italian, and his Company, 'to dance on the ropes, 
to use Interludes and Masques, and to sell his powders and bal- 
sams'; to John Puncteus, a Frenchman, professing Physick, 
with ten in his Company, to exercise the quality of playing, for 
a year, and to sell his drugs." 5 Had we still Herbert's complete 
Register, we could doubtless find many better examples of annual 
licenses to traveling companies. 

An interesting case illustrative of the Master's jurisdiction in 
such matters appears immediately after the Restoration. On 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 16. 

2 1S21 Variorum, 112. Malone interprets the entry as "an annual fee for a 
license to play in the theatre." 
3 See above, p. 53. 

* Kelly, Drama in Leicester, under the years cited. 
' Chalmers, Supplemental Apology, 209, note. 


October 8, 1660, the Mayor and the Recorder of Maidstone wrote 
to Sir Henry Herbert, notifying him of the arrival in that town 
of several players bearing his commission. The municipal 
officials appear to be somewhat ignorant of the laws governing 
the drama, now that the Puritan prohibition is relaxed. They 
inform Herbert that they do not question his license to these 
players "so farre as they shall use the same according to lawe, 
to which your license cloth prudently and carefully tye them. 
One particular of which theyre lawfull exercise we conceive to be 
within the verge of his Majesties courtc, wherever it shall be, in 
any parte of England, where they may be under your eye and care, 
for the reforminge and regulating any abuses of their license, 
which might be committed by them. But we do not finde that 
you doe, and presume you did not intend to, grant them a licence 
to wander abroade all England over, at what distance soever 
from you." The writers next cite the Statute 39 Elizabeth, 
permitting noblemen's companies, as the rule which they are 
following, and refuse to grant further license. 1 

Sir Henry was indignant at such a rebellion against his au- 
thority. On the following day he replied sternly to the Mayor 
of Maidstone. His license, he declares, "is granted upon the 
conditions of good behaviour to the lawes and ordinances of 
superiors." But while the players bear themselves properly, 
the Mayor has no right to suppress them. "You are the first 
Mayor or other officer, that did ever dispute the authority, or 
the extent of it ; for to confine it to the verge of the Court, is 
such a sense as was never imposed upon it before, and contrary 
to the constant practice ; for severall grantes have been made by 
me, since the happy restoration of our gracious sovereign, to 
persons in the like quality; and seriously, therefore, admitted 
into all the counties and liberties of England, without any dis- 
pute or molestation." Herbert requires the Mayor to permit 
the men to perform, according to their license, and threatens, if 
he refuses, to summon him to Court, to answer for his "dis- 
obedience to his Majesties authority derived unto me under the 
great scale of England." To show the peril of questioning the 

1 The letter is printed in full in Warner, Epistolary Curiosities, I, 59-60. 


power of the Revels Office, he even hints that the Mayor has 
endangered the charter of his corporation. 1 

These claims of Sir Henry's, coupled with what we know of 
his practice before the Civil War, indicate that the Master clearly 
had the right to license traveling companies for performances 
throughout the kingdom, and that such a commission from him 
was superior to the authority of local officials, who had no right 
to refuse the bearers of it permission to play. Concerning the 
extent to which he exercised this power and the price for 
which he sold such commissions, we have at present no infor- 

It is apparent from the extracts cited above, showing per- 
mission for rope dancing and even the sale of drugs, that the 
Master did not confine his traffic to the "legitimate" drama 
alone. All sorts of showmen were authorized by him. From 
Chalmers' quotations from the Register we learn of licenses for 
"making show of an Elephant"; for "a live Beaver"; for an 
"outlandish creature called a Possum"; for two Dromedaries; 
for a Camel ; for a " Showing Glass, called the World's Wonder" ; 
for a " Musical Organ, with divers motions in it" ; for " tumbling 
and vaulting, with other tricks of slight of hand" ; for "certain 
freaks of charging and discharging a gun"; for teaching the 
art of music and dancing; and for a show of pictures in wax. 2 
Some of these are mentioned as licenses for the space of a year ; 
others as being issued gratis; and for one the price received is 
given. The Dutchman who obtained the license "to show two 
Dromedaries for a year " paid one pound. 

The business of licensing such shows must have been a profit- 
able one, for the Master and his Deputy made great efforts to 
develop it. After the Restoration, Sir Henry Herbert, among 
suggestions for the confirmation and extension of the powers of 
the Revels Office, desired that it should have jurisdiction over 
all dancing schools, "wakes or rural feasts," and lotteries, and 
should even have the right to license "gaming" contrary to the 
law. 3 He seems to have claimed authority also over billiards, 

1 Warner, Epistolary Curiosities, I, 61-63. 

2 Chalmers, Supplemental Apology, 208-209, note. 

3 Warner, Epistolary Curiosities, I, 185-187. 


ninepins, and cock-fighting, 1 — anything, in fact, over which his 
jurisdiction could possibly be stretched, and the licensing of 
which might be a source of profit. 

He tried also to make his licensing power an exclusive one, 
necessary to all showmen in the kingdom. In 1661 Herbert 
secured from the Lord Chamberlain an order addressed to all 
Mayors, Sheriffs, and Justices of the Peace throughout the 
realm, declaring that any persons in any city, borough, town cor- 
porate, village, hamlet, or parish, acting or presenting any 
"play, show, motion, feats of activitie and sights whatsoever," 
without a license now in force under the hand and seal of the 
Master of the Revels, must have their grants or licenses taken 
from them and sent to the Revels Office; and that all plays or 
shows must be suppressed until approved and licensed by Sir 
Henry Herbert or his Deputy. 2 We find the Revels Office try- 
ing to enforce this wide authority two years later. On July 23, 
1663, one of the Messengers of the Office was despatched to 
Bristol, where fairs were to be held, there to investigate all 
showmen whatsoever, and see that they had commissions from 
the Revels, or that such as had not, paid a proper fee or gave a 
bond for their future obedience. 3 How extensively the Master 
had enforced such rights over the provinces before the Civil 
War, it is impossible at present to ascertain. 

The facts concerning the Master's licensing of playhouses are 
not entirely clear. In Tilney's time, as we have seen from the 
entries in Henslowe's Diary, it appears that he received a regular 
sum for the licensing of established theaters, which increased 
from ten shillings a week in 1596, 1597, and 1598, to three pounds 
a month in 1599 and later years. 4 In 1601 the three pounds per 
month is specified as a payment for the Fortune theater. 5 Sir 
George Buc ventured on a more radical exercise of power, — 
the granting, in 16 13, of a license to erect a new playhouse in 
Whitefriars, then part of the City of London. 6 For this he 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 53-56, 59-60. 
1 Ibid., 42-44. 5 Ibid., 50-51. 

* Henslowe's Diary, 40, 46, 54, 72, 129, 130, 132, 160, 161; Henslowe Pa- 
pers, 58. 

1 Henslowe's Diary, 132, 160. ' See below, p. 146. 


received ^o. 1 Sir Henry Herbert copied this entry from Buc's 
Office Book into his own, apparently to serve as a precedent 
for similar licenses in future, and after the Restoration he 
specifically claimed the right to grant permission to erect play- 
houses. 2 But we have no record of the Master's ever having 
exercised this right except in the single case of the new White- 
friars theater in 1613. 

Under Herbert the regular monthly fees for licenses for exist- 
ing playhouses were apparently no longer paid, — possibly be- 
cause the London theaters were specifically named and per- 
formances in them authorized by the royal patents to the favored 
companies. Instead of these payments, Herbert received from 
the players other sums, on which we get some light from his 
claims after the Restoration and the extracts from his Register. 
In 1628 the King's company, he tells us, "with a general consent 
and alacrity," arranged to give him two benefit performances a 
year, one in summer and one in winter, "to be taken out of the 
second day of a revived play, at his own choice." For five 
years and a half this arrangement continued, netting Herbert, 
on an average, £8 195. 4J. from each performance. In 1633 a 
change was made, the managers of the company agreeing to pay 
him the fixed sum of £10 every Christmas and the same at Mid- 
summer, in lieu of his two benefits. 3 When Herbert was assert- 
ing his claims in 1662, he declared that his profit from each of 
the benefit performances amounted to £50, — an astonishing 
multiplication of his actual receipts which it is hard to under- 
stand. 4 Corresponding to this alleged profit from the King's 
company was the payment from the other actors noted by 
Herbert as, " For a share from each company of four companyes 
of players (besides the late Kinges Company), valued at a^ioo 
a yeare, one yeare with another, besides the usuall fees." 5 

There were other payments alleged, in addition to this very 
considerable sum. For a " Christmas fee," Herbert asserted, he 
received £3,° and the same for a "Lenten fee." 7 Concerning 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 52, note. 5 Ibid., 246-248. 

3 Ibid., 176-178. * Ibid., 266. 'Ibid. 

9 Possibly it was necessary for the companies to pay this for permission to play 
in the Christmas season. 7 1S21 Variorum, III, 266. 


this second item, we gain further information from his Office 
Book. Performances in Lent were prohibited by order of the 
Privy Council, as we find from numerous entries in the Council 
Register. 1 In 1615, for example, representatives of the five 
companies were summoned before the Lords to answer "for 
playing in this prohibited time in Lent, notwithstanding the 
Lord Chamberlain's commandment signified to them by the 
Master of the Revels." 2 But by the purchase of a special license 
or dispensation from the Master, it was possible for the players 
to perform as usual, except on the "sermon days," as they were 
called, — that is, on Wednesday and Friday. 3 Herbert copied 
into his Register extracts from Buc's Office Book, showing the 
latter's practice in such cases. In 161 7, we find, the Master 
received 445. from the King's company "for a lenten dispensa- 
tion, the other companys promising to doe as muche." * Under 
Herbert the price of these Lenten dispensations appears to 
have been generally £2. Such is the sum noted for the Cockpit 
company in 1624, and for the King's company in 1626. 5 Other 
shows gained the allowance at a cheaper rate, apparently; for 
the "dancers of the ropes" at the Fortune, in 1625, paid only one 
pound. 6 Possibly the price rose later, or Herbert's claim after 
the Restoration of £3 as the regular fee may be another of his 

When the French company so much favored by the King 
and the Queen appeared in London in 1635, the King com- 
manded Herbert that they should be allowed to play "the two 
sermon days in the week, during their time of playing in Lent," 
and as a result of this special privilege they took in the sum of 
£200. At Herbert's intercession for them the King granted 
also that they might "have freely to themselves the whole week 

1 See below, pp. 210-21 1. 

s Extract from the Council Register, in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 
380, note. Thompson {Puritans and Stage, 155) says that about this time the 
Master of the Revels was forbidden to grant any more Lenten dispensations; 
but I find no evidence of this. Indeed, it seems probable that his sale of these 
dispensations may have resulted from this rigorous action by the Council. 
Apparently it began two years later, in 161 7. This date, at least, is that of the 
first case quoted by Herbert as a precedent. 

3 1821 Variorum, III, 65, note. * Ibid. 

• Ibid., 66, note. 9 Ibid. 


before the week before Easter," — a favor which so pleased them 
that they offered the Master a present of £10. "But I refused 
itt," noted Herbert, "and did them many other curtesys gratis, 
to render the queene my mistris an acceptable service." * The 
Frenchmen did not escape, however, without some contribution 
to the Revels Office, for it appears from a later entry that they 
gave Sir Henry's Deputy "three pounds for his paines." 2 Such 
relaxation of the law against Lenten performances was naturally 
distasteful to the Puritans. Prynne, we find, refers to it in his 
Histriomastix in 1632. 3 

The Master of the Revels was also able at times to secure for 
the players some relaxation of the orders against performances 
in plague time, or to hasten the opening of the theaters as the 
infection subsided. In June, 163 1, Herbert received from the 
King's company the profit on a performance of Pericles at the 
Globe, amounting to £3 10s. od., "for a gratuity for their 
liberty gaind unto them of playinge, upon the cessation of the 
plague." 4 Other "occasional gratuities," as Herbert called 
them, helped to swell his income. One profitable contribution 
of this sort we find in his Office Book: on July 17, 1626, 
three pounds "from Mr. Hemmings, for a courtesy done him 
about their Blackfriars house." 5 Besides such gratuities on 
various occasions, Herbert had also, as he later asserted, "a 
box gratis" at each of the theaters. 6 

One of the most considerable sources of revenue for the Mas- 
ter was that derived from the exercise of his most important 
function, the censorship and licensing of plays. He became 
sole censor of the drama in and about London; his was the 
responsibility of seeing that nothing was performed in any 
way seditious or offensive to the authorities. No play, new or 
old, could be presented — theoretically, at least — without his 

During the early years of Herbert's administration, it seems 
possible that his authority as licenser of plays sometimes extended 
only over the privileged companies. In 1623 we find a puzzling 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 121, note. ' Ibid., 122, note. 

s p. 784. 1821 Variorum, III, 66, note. * Ibid., 177, note. 

6 Ibid., 229. e Ibid., 266. 


entry in his Register, stating, according to Malone, that the 
play, Come See a Wonder, "written by John Dayc for a company 
of strangers," was acted at the Red Hull and licensed without 
his hand to it, because they — that is, this company of strangers 
— were none of the four companies. 1 Who else could have 
licensed the play is not apparent, — the Lord Chamberlain, 
possibly; and, in the absence of further information, the entry 
is hard to understand. The French company which appeared 
in 1629 was apparently subject to the Master's orders; for 
twice he received from them £2 for the right of playing one day; 
and on a third occasion he remitted half this fee, "in respect 
of their ill fortune." 2 

Over the patented companies, at all events, Sir Henry exer- 
cised a strict jurisdiction. Their performance of any play with- 
out his license was a serious offense, as we learn from the very 
humble submission tendered to him by the King's company in 
1624, when they had offended in this way. 

"To Sir Henry Herbert, K l . master of his Ma." 8 * Revells. 

"After our humble servise remembered unto your good worship, 
Whereas not long since we acted a play called The Spanishe Viceroy, 
not being licensed under your worships hande, nor allowed of: wee 
doe confess and herby acknowledge that wee have offended, and that 
it is in your power to punishe this offense, and are very sorry for it; 
and doe likewise promise herby that wee will not act any play with- 
out your hand or substituts hereafter, nor doe any thinge that may 
prejudice the authority of your office: So hoping that this humble 
submission of ours may bee accepted, wee have therunto sett our 
hands." 3 

The Master had the right to suppress a play at any time. 
Upon any complaint concerning one, he was accustomed to 
order its withdrawal from the stage until he was satisfied that 
nothing offensive had been introduced, or it was changed to suit 
his judgment. 

The methods which he followed in exercising his censorship 
we can trace in some detail. From Tilney's time onward, as 
we know from his "indenture" of 1583, 4 and from surviving 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 224. 2 Ibid., 120, note. 

3 Ibid., 209-210. * See above, p. 53. 


manuscripts, it was customary for the book-keeper of the com- 
pany to submit to him a copy of the play before its performance, 
that he might read it at his leisure. He demanded that this 
should be a "fair copy," * and complained at times of the illegi- 
bility of the manuscripts. 2 The Master went over the play -book 
with care, striking out or altering single words and whole passages, 
and noting in the margin that certain objectionable scenes must 
be radically changed. 3 He then indorsed on the manuscript 
his license to act. 

"This Second Maydens Tragedy (for it has no name inscribed) 
may with the reformacions bee acted publikely. 31. October. 1611. 
G. Buc." 4 

"This Play called ye Seamans honest wife, all ye Oaths left out in 
the action as they are crost in ye booke & all other Reformations 
strictly observed, may bee acted, not otherwise. This 27th June, 
1633. Henry Herbert." 5 

In such words the license was given. Sometimes the Master's 
Deputy made the corrections and wrote the permission, as in 
the case of the Lady Mother, licensed by Blagrave in 163 5.° 

Though the custom was evidently not consistently followed, 
Herbert desired that copies of the plays should be left with 
the Master, "that he may be able to shew what he hath 
allowed or disallowed." 7 He could thus defend himself against 
blame for improper interpolations made later by the actors, as 
in the case of Jonson's Magnetic Lady, when the players at 
first "would have excused themselves," says Herbert, "on 
mee and the poett"; but afterwards confessed that they them- 
selves were to blame for the interpolations. 8 It was naturally 
difficult for the Master to keep track of what was actually said 
at the performances. He directed the company's book-keeper 
to make the alterations in the actors' parts which he had in- 
dicated on the play-book ; and declared that the players ought 
not to study their roles until the text had been allowed. 9 

1 Bullen, Old Plays, II, 432. 2 Chalmers, Supplemental Apology, 217. 

3 On the nature of his corrections, see below, pp. 93 ff., 109 fT., 114 ff. 
* See below, p. 109. s Bullen, Old Plays, II, 432. 8 Ibid., 200. 

7 1S21 Variorum, III, 208. 8 Ibid., 233. g Ibid., 208-210. 


But there must have been much carelessness in carrying out 
these rules and many opportunities for interpolations by the 

The fee received by the Master for the licensing of a play 
varied during the period. Under Tilney, as we learn from 
Henslowe's Diary, it was, in 1592, 55., then 6s., and later 65. 8J. 1 
In the years 1 598-1600, the fee was uniformly 75. a play. 2 

This seems to be the most fitting place for a discussion of 
these entries in Henslowe's Diary. There is little doubt that 
they were actually payments to the Master for licenses to act 
certain plays. The first group of entries is perhaps the most 
dubious. It is a series of payments "to Mr. Tilney's man," 
occurring about once a week from February 26 to June 14, 1592 ; 
always for 55. until May 13, when the sum is 125., — presumably 
for two plays; and on the three occasions after that, for 65. 8d. 
As Lord Strange's company began to perform at Henslowe's 
theater, the Rose, on February 19, and continued until June 22 
of this year, it seems most probable that these payments were 
for licensing plays. 

The later entries are scattered here and there through the 
Diary, and are in some such form as, "Paid unto the Master 
of the Revels' man for the licensing of a book, 75." These 
have been generally considered licenses for performance, but 
Mr. Fleay asserts : "The instances are far too few to allow of 
this interpretation. It meant licensing for the press indepen- 
dently of the Stationers' Company." 3 This appears very im- 
probable. It is not until 1606 that we have definite evidence 
of the Master's licensing for printing, and his authorization was 
then regularly entered on the Stationers' Register. 4 Moreover, 
it is very unlikely that Henslowe would desire to have the plays 
licensed for printing, — especially so soon after they were writ- 
ten. In two cases where the name of the play is given, the 
license was purchased only about a month after the author was 
paid for his work. 5 The well-known objection of players to 
the publication of their plays is here illustrated by Henslowe's 

1 Henslowe's Diary, 12. ' Ibid., 83, 85, 90, 103, 109, 116, 117, 131. 

' London Stage, 107. * See below, pp. 84 ff. 

1 Henslowe's Diary, 120, 121. 


entry of a gift of 40s. on March 18, 1600, to the printer "to stave 
the printing of patient grissel." ' 

The smallness of the number of licenses, on which Mr. Fleay 
bases his assertion, is easily explained. In the first place many 
of the payments were doubtless entered on the pages of the Diary 
which are now missing, and others were perhaps not entered 
at all. Henslowe's accounts were kept in a chaotic manner, and 
the entries we have appear to have survived casually in groups. 
The fact that he made payments to the Master which do not 
appear in the Diary is shown by his noting, on February 27, 1596, 
"the master of the Revelles payd untell this time al wch J owe 
hime," 2 whereas there are no entries of any payments to Tilney 
for a year preceding this ; and also by the appearance of one of 
the Revels receipts among the Henslowe Papers. 3 Moreover, 
it seems that it was not always Henslowe's duty, as manager of 
the theater, to pay for such licenses for performance, but that 
this financial obligation sometimes rested on the company. 
There are several entries in a form something like this: "Lent 
unto the company to pay unto the Master of the Revels for the 
licensing of two books." * When the company did not borrow 
the fee from Henslowe, their payment, of course, would not 
appear in his accounts. Finally, Mr. Fleay himself remarks, 
in discussing these licenses for printing — as he considers 
them: "It is curious that in every instance where Henslowe 
gives a play-name the play is non-extant." 5 That is, the plays 
were probably never printed. 6 

In view of all this, and also the fact that we know Tilney was 
licensing plays for performance at this time, and in the absence 
of support for Mr. Fleay's assertion, it seems most likely that 
these entries in Henslowe's Diary were payments for licenses 
to act certain plays. 

1 Henslowe's Diary, no. 2 Ibid., 28. 3 Henslowe Papers, 58. 

4 Henslowe's Diary, 83, 148. The term "book," it should be said, has no 
reference to a printed volume, but is the usual word for a play. 

6 London Stage, 107. 

* It might perhaps be suggested that these printing licenses were bought 
with no intention of publication, but merely to gain a sort of copyright and thereby 
forestall others who might secure a license and actually print the plays. This 
does not, however, seem probable. 


By the time Herbert took office, the regular fee for licensing 
a new play had apparently risen to one pound. This was the 
sum he received from the King's company on April 10, 1624, 
for Davenport's History of Jinny the 'First} In cases where 
he had exceptional trouble with the corrections, he was some- 
times paid double this sum, as on January 2, 1624, for the His- 
tory of the Duchess of Suffolk, "which being full of dangerous 
matter was much reformed by me," notes Herbert. "I had 
two pounds for my pains." 2 Apparently this larger sum after- 
wards became the regular price. In 1632 he received it for 
Jonson's Magnetic Lady, 3 and in 1642 for several plays. 4 After 
the Restoration he succeeded in establishing his claim to £2 
as the regular fee for a new play. 5 

Herbert held that the payment was not for licensing the play, 
but for his trouble in reading it over. When he refused to 
license Massinger's Believe As You List, in 163 1, because of 
its "dangerous matter," he entered in his Office Book, "I had 
my fee notwithstanding, which belongs to me for reading itt 
over, and ought to be brought always with the booke." 6 And 
in June, 1642, he noted thus briefly a transaction which must 
have been somewhat irritating to the players: "Received of 
Mr. Kirke, for a new play which I burnte for the ribaldry and 
offense that was in it, £2. o. o." 7 

On the revival of old plays, it was generally necessary to get 
the Master's approval ; but there was at first apparently no fee 
paid, especially if the players still had the copy bearing the former 
authorization. On August 19, 1623, Herbert notes: "For the 
King's players. An olde playe called Winter's Tale, formerly 
allowed of by Sir George Bucke, and likewyse by mee on Mr. 
Hemmings his w r ord that there was nothing profane added or 
reformed, thogh the allowed booke w r as missinge; and there- 
fore I returned it without a fee." 8 A little later Herbert seems 
to have felt that some present to him was fitting when he allowed 
an old drama of which the original license was lost. He notes 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 229. 2 Chalmers, Supplemental Apology, 217, note. 

5 1821 Variorum, III, 231. * Ibid., 240-241. 

1 Ibid., 266; Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 36, 37. 

8 1821 Variorum, III, 231. ''Ibid., 241. 8 Ibid., 229. 



in February, 1625, that "an olde play called The Honest Mans 
Fortune, the originall being lost, was re-allowed by mee at Mr. 
Taylor's intreaty, and on consideration to give mee a booke." l 

In 1633 Herbert became convinced that greater care was 
necessary in the supervision of old plays. The Tamer Tamed 
was revived by the King's company in October of that year; 
whereupon complaint was made to the Master that it contained 
"foul and offensive matters." Herbert ordered the suppression 
of the play and sent for the book, to find that the accusation was 
justified and the Tamer Tamed indeed much in need of "refor- 
mation." In the account of the affair in his Register he declares 
that "all ould plays ought to bee brought to the Master of the 
Revels, and have his allowance to them for which he should have 
his fee, since they may be full of offensive things against church 
and state ; y e rather that in former time the poetts took greater 
liberty than is allowed them by mee." 2 This rule he now ap- 
pears to have put into force, for in the following month he received 
from the King's company one pound for Fletcher's Loyal Sub- 
ject, licensed by Buc in 1618 and now "perused and with some 
reformations allowed of " by Herbert. 3 One pound apparently 
became the Master's regular fee for a revived play. He claimed 
this after the Restoration and, though its legality was questioned, 
was for a time successful in establishing it. 4 

Though the Master claimed the exclusive right of censoring 
and licensing plays throughout the kingdom, 5 it is not probable 
that he exercised this at all rigorously outside of London. Prac- 
tically all plays of any importance must have been performed 
first at the capital. It would scarcely have been possible or 
profitable for him to enforce his censorship over all the insig- 
nificant local productions throughout England. 

The Master's possession of the power of forbidding the per- 
formance of any play apparently led to his occasional interference 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 229. Malone states — on what authority does not 
appear — that the book given was the Arcadia. Were it not for this assertion, 
one might imagine that Herbert was referring to a copy of the play-book. 

2 1S21 Variorum, III, 208-210. See below, pp. 124 ff. 3 1821 Variorum, 
III, 234. 

* Ibid., 266; Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 36, 37, 49. 

6 See above, pp. 53, 73. 


to prevent a company from stealing a drama bclonging-to-ethcr 
actors. Though the players or manager who purchased a play 
from its author seem to have had a property right in it, there 
was difficulty in enforcing this, except by careful guarding of all 
copies of the play-book, so that none might be available for per- 
formance by others. This was an urgent reason, of course, for 
avoiding the printing of plays. Probably the prominent Lon- 
don companies had some agreement binding them to respect each 
other's property; but at times of hostility between the theaters 
thefts of plays occasionally occurred. About 1600, for example, 
the Chapel Children appropriated the Spanish Tragedy, belong- 
ing to the Lord Chamberlain's company; and in 1604 the latter, 
then the King's men, in retaliation took the boys' Malcontent. 1 
The simplest way of avoiding such thefts was for a company 
to get the Master to forbid the performance of its plays by others. 
In 1627, four years after the publication of the First Folio had 
made" Shakspere's-draTrras easily available, the King's company_ 
paid Herbert the considerable sum of five pounds "to forbid I 
the playing of Shakespeare's plays to the Red Bull company." 2 
How frequently the Master's authority was invoked in such 
cases we do not know. ~^~ 

In 1639 his superior officer, the Lord Chamberlain, interfered 
on a somewhat similar occasion. William Beeston's company 
of the "King's and Queen's young players," performing at the 
Cockpit theater in that year, were anxious to have confirmed their 
exclusive right to certain plays, many of which they seem to 
have inherited from the Queen's company, who had previously 
occupied the Cockpit. Beeston was able to secure from the 
Lord Chamberlain an edict forbidding the acting of these plays 
by other companies. This document gives a list of the dramas, 
"all of which are in his propriety," and requires all masters and 
governors of playhouses in and about London to forbear to 
intermeddle with them, "as they tender his Majesty's displeas- 
ure." 3 Possibly the authority of the Lord Chamberlain was 

1 See Small, Stage Quarrel, 115; Fleay, English Drama, II, 78; Bullen's 
Marston, I, 203. 

2 1821 Variorum, III, 229. 

5 The edict is printed in Chalmers, A pology, 516, and in 1821 Variorum, III, 159. 


used on other similar occasions to protect the King's 

A new source of revenue for the Master of the Revels was 
developed in the extension of his licensing power over the print- 
ing as well as the performance of plays. Under the Injunctions 
of 1559, regulating the censorship of the press in London, it 
was necessary for all "pamphlets, plays and ballads" to be 
licensed before printing by three Commissioners for Religion. 1 
But in practice the license was generally given by the Master 
and Wardens of the Stationers' Company, 2 — a custom which 
persisted to a considerable extent in later years. A Star Cham- 
ber decree in 1586 constituted the Archbishop of Canterbury 
/ and the Bishop of London sole censors and licensers of all printed 
books; and in 1588 the Archbishop delegated this authority to 
several licensers. 3 There was evidently some laxness in carrying 
out the rule, for on June 1, 1599, the Archbishop and the Bishop 
reminded the Stationers' Company that no plays should be printed 
"excepte they bee allowed by such as have aucthorytie." 4 

Sir George Buc appears to have been the one who first thought 
of extending the Master's powers in this direction. Without 
any especial authority from the Crown or the Lord Chamberlain, 
so far as we know, but merely as a natural part of his duties as 
general regulator of the drama, he began to license plays for 
printing. On November 2 1 , 1606, Buc appears in the Stationers' 
Register as licenser of the Fleare, a comedy. 5 Several plays 
are then entered under other license; but on April 10, 1607, 
Buc appears again, and from now on until 161 5 every play except 
two was entered under the license of the Master or his Deputy. 
He had evidently almost established his authority as sole censor 
of printed plays. But as Buc's energy waned with his advancing 

1 Arber, Martin Marprelate Controversy, 49 _ 5°- 

2 Ibid., 51-52. 3 Ibid., 50-51. 
* Arber, Transcript, III, 677. The most convenient account of the censorship 

of the press at this period is in Arber, Martin Marprelate Controversy, as cited 
above. Additional facts may be found in his Transcript, I, xxxviii; III, 15 ff., 
690; IV, 26 ff. 

1 Mr. Fleay has tabulated in convenient form {Life of Shakespeare, 328 ff.) all 
the plays entered in the Stationers' Register, indicating the name of the licenser 
in the case of those allowed by the Master or his Deputy. 


years, the administration of the Revels Office apparently grew 
' lax, and a considerable number of plays appeared under other 
license. As Herbert developed his business, however, he rees- 
tablished this authority, and from 1628 to 1637 he or his Deputy 
licensed every play entered in the Stationers' Register. After 
January 29, 1638, the Revels license appears no more, — per- 
haps as a result of Archbishop Laud's new regulations concern- 
ing the censorship of the press. 1 

In some cases the Master extended his authority over the 
licensing of books of poetry as well as plays. Two interesting 
entries in Herbert's Office Book show receipts from this new 
branch of his business. In October, 1632, he received "from 
Henry Seyle for allowinge a booke of verses of my Lord Brooks, 
entitled Religion, Humane Learning, Warr, and Honor . . . 
in mony 1/. os. o</., in books to the value of 1/. 45. od. "; and 
also "more of Seyle, for allowinge of two other small peeces of 
verses for the press, done by a boy of this town called Cowley, 
at the same time . . . o/. 105. od." 2 This new business was 
not without its drawbacks, however. In the following month, 
on November 14, 1632, Sir Henry w r as summoned before the 
Star Chamber, "by the King's command delivered by the 
Bishop of London," to "give account why he warranted" 
Donne's Paradoxes to be printed. 3 

During the latter part of our period, as we shall presently 
' see, the Lord Chamberlain frequently acted directly in cases of 
trouble in the dramatic world, without reference to his subordi- 
nate, the Master of the Revels. In 1637 we find him exercising 
his authority over the press. Difficulties had arisen from the 
printing of plays belonging to the King's and the Queen's com- 
panies, without their consent. The Earl of Pembroke and Mont- 
gomery, then Lord Chamberlain, consequently addressed an 
edict to the Stationers' Company, ordering them not to allow 
the printing of any dramas belonging to these actors, without 
first ascertaining whether they consented to the publication. 

'See Arber, Transcript, III, 15, 16. 

' 1821 Variorum, III, 231, note. See also Chalmers, Supplemental Apology, 
209, note. 

1 State Papers, Dom., 1631-1633, 437. 


He refers to a similar order by his predecessor, which has been 
disregarded. 1 

/ After the Restoration efforts were made by the Revels Office 
to continue the licensing for the press. Hay ward, who had pur- 
chased the Deputyship from Sir Henry Herbert, and was finding 
his bargain an unprofitable one, was especially anxious to in- 
crease his income from this source. 2 An interesting document 
of July 25, 1663, entitled "Arguments to proue that the Master 
of his Maiesties Office of the Revells, hath not onely the power 
of Lycencing all playes, Poems, and ballads, but of appointing 
them to the Press," shows the wide jurisdiction claimed and the 
attempted justification therefor. 

"That the Master of his Maiesties office of the Revells, hath the 
power of Lycencing all playes whether Tragedies, or Comedies before 
they can bee acted, is without dispute and the designe is, that all pro- 
phaneness, oathes, ribaldry, and matters reflecting upon piety, and 
the present governement may bee obliterated, before there bee any 
action in a publique Theatre. 

"The like equitie there is, that all Ballads, songs and poems of 
that nature, should pass the same examinacion, being argued a Ma- 
jore ad Minus, and requiring the same antidote, because such things 
presently fly all over the Kingdom, to the Debauching and poisoning 
the younger sort of people, unles corrected, and regulated. 

"The like may bee said as to all Billes for Shewes, and stage playes, 
Mountebankes, Lotteries &c. because they all receive Commissions 
from the Master of the Revells who ought to inspect the same, that 
their pretences may agree with what is granted by their Commissions, 
otherwise many of them may Divide their Companies and by way of 
cheat (as hath beene vsuall) make one Commission serve for two 
Companies, if not for three. 

"Now from the premisses, it may bee concluded but rationall, that 
hee who hath the power of allowing and Lycencing (as the Master 
hath) should likewise bee authorised to appoint and order the press, 
least after such examination and allowance, alterations should bee 
made, and the abuse proue a scandall and reflection vpon the Master, 
and therefore all sober, considerate persons must from the premisses 
conclude, that the ordering of the Press doth of right belong to the 

1 The edict of 1637 is printed in Chalmers, Apology, 513-514, note ; and in 
1821 Variorum, III, 160-161, note. I have found no other cases of interference 
by the Master or the Lord Chamberlain to prevent the printing of a company's 
plays against its will. 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 53-56, 58, 60. 


Master of the Revells; and in order to the regulating of this business, 
and to make it knowne to the world, that not onely the power of it, 
but the care of well ordering, bounding and correcting all vnsavoury 
words, and vnbecomming expressions, (not fitt to bee Lycenced in 
a christian Commonwealth,) belongeth solely and properly to the 
Master of the Revells, all Poetts and Printers, and other persons 
concerned, are to take notice, after this manifestation shall come out, 
or a precept Drawne from thence, bee sent vnto them that they and 
every of them doe for the future, forbeare their poetry and printing, 
soe farre as may concerne the premisses, without Lycence first ob- 
teined from the Office of the Revells, over against Petty Cannons 
hall in St. Pauls churchyard, where they may certainely find one or 
more of the officers every day." 1 

The general supervision of the stage intrusted to the Master 
of the Revels extended to various cases besides those main lines 
of his duty which we have been considering. Anything con- 
nected with the drama seems to have been within his province. 
For example, in 1626 a long-standing dispute between the widow 
of a shareholder and the surviving members of one of the pat- 
ented companies, was referred to the Master for settlement. 2 
A curious case in 1635, showing the extent of the Master's 
power, is revealed by this entry in Herbert's Register: — 

"I committed Cromes, a broker in Longe Lane, the 16 of Febru. 
1634, to the Marshalsey, for lending a church-robe with the name of 
Jesus upon it, to the players in Salisbury Court, to present a Flamen, 
a priest of the heathens. Upon his petition of submission, and ac- 
knowledgement of his faulte, I releasd him, the 17 Febr. 1634." 3 

On the whole, the Master's business was an extensive and a 
-A profitable one. Herbert apparently paid to Astley during the 
latter's life, £150 a year for the office, 4 and his receipts beyond 
this sum were so considerable that, as his brother, Lord Herbert 
of Cherbury, tells us, " by these means, as also by a good marriage, 
he attained to great fortunes for himself and his posterity to 
enjoy." 5 From Sir Henry's rather confused statements after 
the Restoration, it is difficult to make out exactly how much he 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 51-52. 

2 See the documents printed in Fleay, London Stage, 271 £f., 294 ff. 

3 1821 Variorum, III, 237. 4 See above, p. 65. * Autobiography, 23. 


expected the income from his office to be. In his assertion that 
the failure of the players to pay his fees has cost him £5000 for 
five quarters, he appears to imply that his receipts had amounted, 
before the Civil War, to this sum, — that is, to £4000 per year. 
But this seems impossibly large. In the following accounts 
he sets down £163 per quarter, or £652 a year, as his expected 
receipts from some unspecified source. 1 Possibly this is his esti- 
mate of the normal profit from the sale of licenses and other 
gratuities. Together with his salary and allowances the pay- 
ments from the players must certainly have swelled his yearly 
income to a handsome sum. 

After the Restoration Herbert succeeded, as a result of some 
legal controversies, in reestablishing his authority to a consid- 
erable extent. At his death in 1673, Thomas Killigrew became 
Master. The office retained some part of its jurisdiction until, 
in 1737, the bill for licensing the stage left it no shadow of its 
old authority. 2 

1 The accounts are printed in Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 46-47. 

2 There is no satisfactory account of the office after the Restoration. Some 
facts will be found in the article on Sir Henry Herbert in the Dictionary of 
National Biography ; in Chalmers, Apology, 521 ff., and Supplemental Apology, 
212 ff.; and in Cibber's Apology, edited by Lowe, I, 275, 276 ff. 

The Nature of the Censorship 

Of far greater importance than the development and business 
organization of the Revels licensing department, which the pre- 
ceding chapter has attempted to unravel, is the nature of that 
censorship of which the Master was the official administrator. 
It is an interesting task to trace the sort of control exercised by , 
the government over the content of plays, and to speculate con- ' 
cerning its effect on the Elizabethan drama. The material 
throwing light on this subject is by no means so full as we could 
wish; but it is still possible to ascertain something from the 
surviving manuscripts showing the Master's expurgations, and 
from accounts of the instances in which he or his superiors in- 
terfered, — of all the cases, that is, in which players or play- 
wrights got into trouble because of the content of their plays. 

Judged by the standards of the time, the government super- 
vision was, on the whole, a reasonable and a lenient one. The 
character of the men chosen for the office of Master of the Revels 
indicates a sense of fitness on the part of the government, for 
they were, as we have seen, gentlemen of good family, generally 
with some literary experience and qualifications, not apt to take 
any unreasonable or Philistine attitude towards the drama. 
It is, of course, necessary for us to remember that the idea of 
censorship at this period was something radically different from 
that which inspires the uncertain supervision exercised over the 
stage in England and sporadically in the United States at the 
present time. The Puritan notions concerning decency and 
morality scarcely affected the Master of the Revels, who naturally 
held the views of his class and his time. Scenes which to our 
modern sense of propriety seem inexpressibly offensive, the 
Master passed over without a misgiving. His concern was, in, 
general, not a moral, but a practical political one, — the sup- / 




pression of anything tending to cause disorder or contempt of 

As we have seen, the government of Elizabeth disapproved 
of any presentation upon the stage of " matters of religion or of 
the governance of the estate of the common weale." * In this 
attitude the authorities persisted, on the whole, throughout the 
period, frowning upon any controversial treatment of affairs of 
church and state. The Master and his superiors endeavored 
to prevent any remarks hostile to the form and theory of govern- 
ment then prevailing in England, — anything likely to stir up 
dissatisfaction, disorder, or revolt. Similarly, they suppressed 
anything reflecting on the national religion, or on foreign nations 
with which the government was anxious to keep on friendly 
terms. The protection of personages of rank from any disre- 
spectful representation upon the stage was also a frequent con- 
cern of the Master. The King himself had to be guarded at 
times from such irreverence, and foreign sovereigns also — all 
"modern Christian kings" — the players were forbidden to 
represent. Neither were they supposed to attack or satirize 
noblemen, magistrates, or other persons of consequence, — a 
rule often broken and the cause of frequent interference by the 
authorities. Another chief concern of the later Masters was the 
enforcement of the statute of 1606, forbidding the use in plays 
of the name of the Deity. 2 In obedience to this, the censor tried 
to excise all oaths, and sometimes, as we shall see, had difficulty 
in deciding how strong a degree of affirmation was permissible. 
The nature of all this supervision will become clearer as we 
follow its history through the period. 

We have treated in an earlier chapter the exercise of the cen- 
sorship during the first part of the Tudor period. Our concern 
here is with the years during which the Master was in charge. 
There is nothing to indicate that during the first decade or more 
of his censorship the policy of the government was a very re- 
pressive one, or indeed that there was any considerable need 
for repression. The dramatists were in sympathy with the 
people, and the people were loyal supporters of the government 

1 See above, p. 15. 2 See above, p. 19. 


of Elizabeth. As Mr. Bond suggests, 1 the Queen herself was 
apparently not unwilling to sec upon the stage a fairly frank 
representation of current political events, if we may judge from 
the slightly veiled symbolism which modern critics have dis- 
covered in Endymion and Sappho and Phao. 

The first case of rigorous interference by the authorities under 
this regime was that of the Martin Marprelate controversy, ^ 
already twice mentioned. The Martinists, the Puritan pam- 
phleteers who assailed the Established Church, could of course 
expect no sympathy from the players, whom the Puritan party 
had long bitterly vituperated and endeavored to suppress. 
Ranging themselves with the government and the Court, the x y 
players replied by violent dramatic attacks on the Marprelate 
party. These controversial plays have not survived, and are 
known to us only by allusions in contemporary pamphlets. 
One appears to have been of the morality type, in which Martin 
was represented as an ape, vilely attacking the lady " Divinitie." 
In another he appeared with "a cocks combe, an apes face, a 
wolfes bellie, cats clawes." It seems probable, from an allusion 
in Lyly's Pappe with a Hatchett, that the former play was sup- 
pressed — possibly by the city authorities — before the latter 
part of September, 1589; and that other plays which had been 
written against Martin had been refused a license. 2 Apparently, 
however, some of the offensive dramas later got upon the stage, 
for on November 6 we find that the Privy Council had ordered 
the suppression of all plays in and about London, "in that Mr. 
Tilney did utterly mislike the same." 3 The correspondence 
relative to the establishment of the censorship commission, six 
days later, informs us that the ground of this disapproval was 
the players' having "taken upon them to handle in their plays ■ . , 
certain matters of Divinity and of State unfit to be suffered." 4 
This is rather vague. In the absence of more definite informa- 
tion, we can only conjecture that these controversial plays had 
caused disorders and complaints ; that the authorities disapproved 

1 Edition of Lyly, I, 31. 

2 See Bond's Lyly, I, 52 ff., where the extracts from the pamphlets are con- 
veniently given. 

' See above, pp. 17-18, 55 and below, pp. 176-177. * Acts, XVIII, 214. 


of the public representation of such grave matters in such a 
scurrilous manner; and that therefore, though the persons 
attacked were the bitter assailants of the Established Church, 
the government very properly suppressed all plays until meas- 
ures could be taken to secure their more effective supervision. 
There is no indication that any of the players or playwrights 
were severely punished — the two members of Lord Strange's 
company imprisoned for disobeying the Lord Mayor were prob- 
ably soon released — or that performances were interdicted 
for any considerable length of time. 

It has generally been assumed that some similarly offensive 
representation of the religious controversy was the cause of the 
suppression of the Paul's Boys in 1590 or 1591. That "the 
Plaies in Paules were dissolved" * about this time, and not re- 
newed until about 1600, is all we positively know concerning 
the matter. 2 In view of the comparatively lenient attitude gen- 
erally taken by the government towards such offenses, it seems 
impossible that such an extremely severe punishment as exclu- 
sion from the stage for nearly nine years could have been in- 
flicted because of a controversial play of this kind. What was 
the real cause of the loss of royal favor and of the decision that 
the Paul's Boys had best confine themselves for a time to their 
choral duties, we shall apparently never know. 

If we are to believe an anonymous tract issued in 1592, greater 
freedom was allowed the players at this period for attacks on* 
the Roman Catholic religion than on the Puritans. A pam- 
phlet of 1592, attributed to Parsons the Jesuit, states that certain 
players have been suffered "to scoffe and jeast at" the King of 
Spain "upon their common stages," and to deride the Roman 
Catholic religion by annexing a verse against it to one of the 
Psalms of David. 3 So soon after the days of the Armada, it 
was natural to allow a disrespect to Spain and Catholicism 
which would have been promptly suppressed by the govern- 
ment in later years. 4 

1 Printer's Preface to Endymion, licensed October 4, 1501. 

1 See Baker's edition of Lyly's Endymion, civ ff. ; and Bond's Lylv, I, 62. 

s Quoted in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 279. 

4 Compare the case of the Game at Chess. See below, pp. 118 ff. 


Our most vivid glimpse of the sort of censorship exercised 
by Tilney during his administration is gained from the very 
interesting manuscript play-book of Sir .Thomas More, showing 
the Master's "reformations." This anonymous play has been 
variously dated, — as early as 1586/ and as late as 1596. 2 Prob- 
ably Dyce's conjecture is the most likely, — that it was written 
about 1590 or a little earlier. 3 The manuscript — Harleian 
7368 — is a very confusing one, consisting of the official copy 
submitted to the censor and three different sets of alterations and 
additions, one of which, it has been contended, is actual!}' in 
the handwriting of Shakspere himself. 4 The play sets forth the 
rise and fall of Sir Thomas More, — portraying him first as 
Sheriff of London, suppressing, by his eloquence and sound 
sense, the insurrection of the citizens against the foreign residents, 
on the "ill May Day" of 15 17 ; then as Lord Chancellor, enter- 
taining at his house the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen ; later, 
as refusing to subscribe to the "articles" sent him by the King; 
imprisoned in the Tower; and finally on his way to execution. 
Throughout he is sympathetically represented as an admirable 
character, once in error, but greatly loved and respected by the 
people. Though he protests to the very end his loyalty to the 
King, he never retracts or repents his refusal to subscribe to 
the royal articles. "A very learned woorthie gentleman seales 
errour with his blood," says Surrey, at the end, summing up the 
portrayal of the Chancellor's character. As for the insurrection 
against the foreigners, though there are many sound speeches 
against rioting and sedition, and concerning the obedience 
due the King, the sympathy of the writer or writers is clearly 
with the citizens in their protests against the encroachments 
and outrages of the foreigners. 

1 R. Simpson, in Notes and Queries, July i, 1871. 

2 Fleay, English Drama, II, 312. 

s Dyce's edition, in Shakspere Society Publications, Vol. XXIII, 1844. The 
play seems to refer to the troubles of September, 1586, rather than to the prentice 
riots of 1595. But it is unlikely that the players would have ventured to produce 
the drama immediately after the height of the trouble. We may assume that 
an interval elapsed, — perhaps about three years or less. See below, p. 94. 

4 See R. Simpson, in Notes and Queries, July 1, 1871 ; and J. Spedding, ibid., 
September 21, 1872. 



The very fact that a playwright dared to treat without dis- 
guise such a critical point in the political history of the reign 
of the Queen's father, shows the freedom allowed to the stage 
at this time. From Tilney's "reformations" it appears that 
he was willing to have More's career portrayed, but felt some 
uneasiness at seeing such a popular and admirable person repre- 
sented as disobedient to the royal authority. At the point where 
the Chancellor refuses to accede to the King's demand, the action 
is set forth without any seditious or disrespectful language what- 
soever, and the contents of the "articles" is tactfully left unspe- 
cified. Nevertheless Tilney drew his pen through all the con- 
cluding portion of the scene, where More's refusal is represented, 
and wrote in the margin "all altered." 1 

He appears to have been even more afraid of anything tend- 
ing to arouse, or even suggest, popular discontent or rebellion. 
Opposite the following speech by Shrewsbury he has written 
"Mend y\" 

"My lord of Surrey, and Sir Thomas Palmer, 
Might I with patience tcmpte your graue aduise, 
I tell ye true, that in these daungerous times 
I do not like this frowning vulgare brow: 
My searching eye did neuer entertaine 
A more distracted countenaunce of greefe 
Then I haue late obseru'de 
In the displeased commons of the cittie." 2 

It seems very probable that the play gained much of its point 
from the similarity of the popular feeling against foreigners 
which it described, to the sentiment existing at the time the drama 
was written. This discontent nearly burst into violent acts in 
September, 1586, when Recorder Fleetwood wrote to Burghley 
that the apprentices had conspired an insurrection against the 
French and the Dutch, but especially the French, "all things 
as like unto yll May day as could be devised, in all manner of 
circumstances, mutatis mutandis." 3 It was natural that Tilney 
should try to cut out anything tending to inflame this popular 

1 Dyce's edition, p. 74. 2 p. 14. 

3 See R. Simpson, in Notes and Queries, July 1, 1871. Mr. Fleay connects 
the play with the prentice riots of 1595. English Drama, II, 312. 


feeling that had been so recently dangerous. On the margin, 
at the commencement of the play, he wrote: "Leave out y e 
insurrection wholy, and the cause thereofT, and begin with Sir 
Tho. Moore at y* mayors sessions, with a reportt afterwardes 
off his good service don, being shrive off London, uppon a meet- 
ing agaynst y e Lumbardes, only by a shortt reportt, and nott 
otherwise, att your own pcrrilles. E. Tyllney." ' That is, he 
desired to have the players omit all the scenes where the citizens 
are abused by the foreigners and finally rise against their op- 
pressors, and merely have a brief report of More's suppression of 
the rioting. He was particularly anxious to avoid anything tend- 
ing to stir up the people against the French, and altered several 
lines to this end. For example, when Shrewsbury tells of insults 
offered by foreigners to the citizens, Tilney substitutes " Lom- 
bard " for " Frenchman "; 2 and in the account of the French- 
man Bard's impudent assertion that 

". . . if he had the Maior of Londons wife 
He would keep her in despight of any Englishe," 

Tilney crosses out " Englishe " and writes merely " man." 3 

If this manuscript represents the text actually used for per- 
formance, the players apparently disobeyed some of the Master's < 
instructions. The insurrection scene, for example, they seem 
to have left in, "at their perils"; and it does not appear that 
they "mended" all the points as he desired. But probably 
this very confused play-book does not represent the acting 

Though the trouble in which Kyd and Marlowe were involved 
in 1593 was not directly caused by their dramas, it should per- 
haps be alluded to at this point, as showing that the government 
was keeping an eye on playwrights and guarding against sedi- \ 
tion and atheism. The facts of the case are by no means clear. 
In May of that year Kyd was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured 
to extract testimony. Suspected at first of some "libell that 
concerned the State," he was afterwards, because of a Disputa- 
tion found among his papers, charged with atheism. A week 

1 p. 1, note. 2 p. 16. s p. 15. 


after Kyd's arrest, possibly on his testimony, Marlowe was ap- 
prehended by a warrant from the Council, but apparently not 
imprisoned, for the Lords accepted his pledge to appear when 
wanted. While his case was under investigation, he was stabbed 
to death, on June i, 1593. The charge on which Marlowe was 
arrested is not clearly apparent, but seems to have been atheism. 
Kyd was soon afterwards released. 1 

The famous name of Falstaff now appears in our history; 
but concerning the precise circumstances of the trouble in which 
this character involved Shakspere we know even less than about 
the Kyd and Marlowe affair. When Henry IV was first pro- , 
duced, probably in 1597, the fat knight was entitled Sir John 
Oldcastle, — a name which Shakspere had innocently taken 
over from the old play, The Famous Victories of Henry V. But 
the use of the name of the illustrious Lollard martyr, "the good 
Lord Cobham," for so unedifying a character, aroused protest. 
According to the tradition handed down by Rowe, the descend- 
ants of the famous nobleman protested, and got the dramatist 
to change the title. " Some of that family being then remaining, 
the Queen was pleased to command him to alter it." If the 
production of the play preceded the death of the Lord Chamber- 
lain, Lord Cobham, on March 5, 1597, it was probably he who 
thus defended the memory of his ancestor. Or if he had already 
died, others of the family intervened. Shakspere or his company 
apparently made prompt reparation. The name Oldcastle 
was altered to Falstaff, and the Epilogue of Part II expressly 
protested "Oldcastle died a martyr and this is not the man." 
The play Sir John Oldcastle, which the title-page falsely attrib- 
uted to Shakspere, appeared in 1600 and further defended the 
character of the Lollard nobleman. 

There is no evidence that Shakspere or his company got into 
any serious difficulties as a result of this indiscretion. Eliza- 
beth's fondness for the character of Falstaff, to which tradi- 
tion testifies, would certainly have saved them from punish- 
ment. But the incident shows that dramatists had to be careful 

1 See Boas' Kyd, Ivi ff., cviii ff.; and Ingram, Marlowe and his Associates, 
230 ff. Marlowe had been arrested in 1589, but for what reason and under 
what circumstances we do not know. See Ingram, op. cit., 148 ff. 


not to allude disrespectfully to powerful noblemen or their 
families. 1 

The last years of Elizabeth's reign show two notable cases in 
which the drama was used to reflect the growing political unrest 
of the time. The first of these occurred in the summer of 1597, 
— the performance of Nash's Isle of Dogs at the Rose. Though 
Nash was apparently held chiefly responsible, he really wrote, 
he tells us, only the induction and the first act; the other four 
acts, which bred all the trouble, were supplied by the players, 
"without my consent, or the least guesse of my drift or scope." 2 
Since the Isle of Dogs has not survived, we cannot tell how serious 
the offense was, but the rigorous action taken by the Privy Coun- 
cil indicates that the play contained some seditious attack on the 
government policy, or upon persons of high rank in the state. 
Our chief knowledge of the nature of the work and of the im- 
prisonment of Nash and the other players is derived from the 
following entry in the Council Register, on August 15, in the 
form of a letter to several Justices of the Peace. 

"Upon informacion given us of a lewd plaie that was plaied in 
one of the plaiehowses on the Bancke Side, contanynge very seditious 
and sclanderous matter, wee caused some of the players to be appre- 
hended and comytted to pryson, whereof one of them was not only 
an actor but a maker of parte of the said plaie. For as moche as 
yt ys thought meete that the rest of the players or actors in that matter 
shalbe apprehended to receave soche punyshment as theire leude 
and mutynous behavior doth deserve, these shalbe therefore to re- 
quire you to examine those of the plaiers that are comytted, whose 
names are knowne to you, Mr. Topclyfe, what ys become of the rest 
of theire fellowes that either had theire partes in the devysinge of 
that sedytious matter or that were actors or plaiers in the same, what 
copies they have given forth of the said playe and to whome, and soch 
other pointes as you shall thincke meete to be demaunded of them, 
wherein you shall require them to deale trulie as they will looke to 
receave anie favour. Wee praie you also to peruse soch papers as 
were fownde in Nash his lodgings, which Ferrys, a Messenger of the 
Chamber, shall delyver unto you, and to certyfie us th' examynacions 
you take." 3 

1 Quotations from the sources of our information and further references may 
be found in any good edition of the play. For Mr. Fleay's conjecture as to its 
connection with the closing of the theaters in 1597, see below, p. 188. 

5 Nash, LenUn Stuffe, Grosart edition, V, 200. 3 Acts, XXVII, 338. 



At the time of the arrest of the players, the Lords had evidently 
also ordered the cessation of all performances at the Rose. On 
August 10 Henslowe entered in his Diary an agreement with a 
player who is to act with the Lord Admiral's company at that 
theater, "beginynge Jmediatly after this Restraynt is Recaled 
by the lordes of the cownsell w ch Restraynt is by the meanes of 
playinge the Jeylle of dooges." l The entries in the Diary con- 
cerning Nash's imprisonment in the Fleet, and the news of the 
restraint's being recalled by the Council, are modern forgeries. 2 
Though the offense was apparently considered a serious one, 
and the search of Nash's lodgings would even indicate a sus- 
picion of some plot, it does not appear that the players' punish- 
ment continued long. The theater soon reopened, and six 
months later this same company, the Lord Admiral's, was one 
of the two granted special privileges by the Privy Council. 3 

By far the most interesting case of the use of the stage for 
political purposes is the well-known effort of the Essex conspira- 
tors to encourage rebellion by the performance of Shakspere's 
Richard II* Though this drama was certainly not originally 
written with any treasonable intent, the scene of the King's 
abdication apparently offended Elizabeth's sensibility in such 
matters, and was expurgated from the first and second quartos, 
issued in 1597 and 1598. The conspirators appear to have be- 
lieved that the public representation of this abdication and of the 
murder of the King might fire the boldness of the chief traitors 
and encourage the populace to rebellion against the present 
Sovereign. They consequently planned to have the play pro- 
duced at the Globe on February 7, 1601, the day preceding the 
date set for the uprising. As we learn from the testimony of 
Augustine Phillips, a prominent member of the company, Sir 
Charles Percy, Sir Josceline Percy, Lord Monteagle, and several 
others went to some of the Lord Chamberlain's players and re- 
quested them to perform the deposing and killing of King Rich- 

1 Henslowe's Diary, 203. 2 Ibid., xl, xli. 3 See above, p. 58. 

4 There seems to be no doubt that this play of the "deposing and killing of 
King Richard II" was Shakspere's. It belonged to his company; and, as his 
drama had been written about seven years before, it might well be referred to as 
an "old play." 


ard II, promising to give them forty shillings "more than their 
ordinary " to do so. The actors had arranged to play some other 
play, holding that of King Richard as being so old and so long 
out of use that they should have a small company at it, but "at 
this request they were content to play it." 1 On the day of the 
performance nine of the conspirators met at one Gunter's house, 
and together went to the Globe, there to derive treasonable in- 
spiration from Shakspere's play. 2 /^ 

No other representation of Richard II seems to be mentioned 
in the legal documents concerning the conspiracy. In the fol- 
lowing summer Queen Elizabeth, in a conversation with William 
Lambarde, referring to the Essex Rebellion, said, "I am Richard 
II, know ye not that?" Lambarde replied, "Such a wicked im- 
agination was determined and attempted by a most unkind Gent. 
the most adorned creature that ever your Majestic made." 
"He that will forget God," rejoined Elizabeth, "will also forget 
his benefactors; this tragedie was played 4o tie times in open 
streets and houses." 3 With all due respect to the Queen, one 
cannot but feel that the story had grown tremendously between 
February and August. 

Serious as was this conspiracy, resulting in the execution of 
Essex and several others, the players appear to have suffered no 
punishment for their part in it. The protection of their patron, 
the Lord Chamberlain, may have stood them in good stead ; or 
it may have been obvious to the authorities that they had had 
no treasonable intent. Moreover, Elizabeth probably did not 
wish to deprive herself of the diversion which their performances 
afforded her. On February 24, a little more than two weeks 
after the rebellion, and on the eve of the execution of Essex, 
the Lord Chamberlain's men played at Court before the Queen. 4 
Evidently Shakspere and his fellows stood high in royal favor, 
and they may well have been thankful for the leniency which 
spared them any penalty for their grave indiscretion. 

1 State Papers, Dom., 1598-1601, 578. 

2 Ibid., 573, 575. See also State Trials, I, 141 2, 1445. 
'Nichols, Progresses of Elizabeth, III, 552. 

4 Cunningham, Revels Accounts, xxxii; Thorndike, Hamlet and Contempo- 
rary Revenge Plays, in Modern Language Association Publications, XVII, 132. 


One other case of trouble in Elizabeth's reign, of a much less 
serious nature, shows the opposition of the authorities to the dis- 
respectful representation upon the stage of persons of rank. 
On May 10, 1601, as we have already seen, 1 the Privy Council 
wrote to certain Justices of the Peace in Middlesex, concerning 
the players at the Curtain, who, it was reported, were represent- 
ing upon the stage in their interludes " the persons of some gentle- 
men of good desert and quaUity that are yet alive under obscure 
manner, but yet in such sorte as all the hearers may take notice 
both of the matter and the persons that are meant thereby." 
"This beinge a thinge very unfitte and offensive," the Council 
orders the Justices to stop the play and investigate it. If they 
find it "so odious and inconvenient as is informed," they are 
required to "take bond" of the chief players "to aunswere their 
rashe and indiscreete dealing before us." 2 Apparently the 
matter was not particularly "odious," for the Council seems to 
have taken no further notice of it. 

During the early years of James' reign there were apparently 
various attempts to represent current events upon the stage, 
and even to express there some of the dissatisfaction and con- 
tempt felt by many of his subjects for their new Sovereign. 
Beaumont, the French Ambassador, in a despatch written in 
June, 1604, forcibly portrays the popular attitude towards 
James. " Consider, for pity's sake, what must be the state and 
condition of a prince, whom the preachers publicly from the pul- 
pit assail, whom the comedians bring upon the stage, whose wife 
attends these representations to enjoy the laugh against her hus- 
band, whom the parliament braves and despises, and who is 
universally hated by the whole people." 3 

Even the King's own company was indiscreet in representing 
his Majesty upon the stage. In December, 1604, they produced 
the tragedy of Gowry, which must have portrayed the unsuccess- 
ful plot of the Earl of that name against King James, in the year 
1600. 4 The play does not survive, and we know of it only from 

1 See above, p. 18. 2 Acts, XXXI, 346. 

8 Raumer, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, II, 206-207. 
4 For an interesting account of this conspiracy, indicating the probable nature 
of the play, sec Stale Trials, I, 1359 ff. 




Chamberlain's letter to Winwood, of December 18, 1604, wherein 
he narrates: "The tragedy of Goivry, with all the Action and 
Actors, hath been twice represented by the King's Players, with 
exceeding Concourse of all sorts of People. But whether the 
matter or manner be not well handled, or that it be thought unfit 
that Princes should be played on the Stage in their Life-time, I 
hear that some great Councellors are much displeased with it, 
and so 'tis thought shall be forbidden." ' The phrasing of this 
letter indicates that it may have been this tragedy which caused 
the "commandment and restraint," mentioned in 1624, "against 
the representing of any modern Christian kings in stage-plays." 2 
But it is even more likely that this order resulted from the per- 
formance of Chapman's Biron, which we shall presently consider. 3 
The boldness of the actors apparently continued, order or no J 
order, for on March 28, 1605, Calvert wrote to Winwood that, 
the players did not "forbear to present upon their stage the/ 
whole course of the present Time, not sparing either King, State,! 
or Religion, in so great Absurdity, and with such Liberty, that/ 
any would be afraid to hear them." 4 

Possibly one of the plays which caused this comment was Day's 
Isle of Gulls, produced in 1605. Mr. Fleay thinks that it was 
almost certainly one of the series of dramas of this time in which 
royalty w T as satirized. He points out that it was published sur- 
reptitiously; and that the characters who in the extant version 
are called Duke and Duchess, had in the original version been 
called King and Queen. 5 There seems to be no proof that this 
was actually the play alluded to in Calvert's letter of March 28, 
as Mr. Fleay suggests; but probably it was indiscreet in its 
first form, and it may have involved its author or producers 
in difficulty. 

It is possible that one of the dramas which caused Calvert's 
comment was the famous and delightful Eastward Hoe, the joint 
production of Jonson, Chapman, and Marston, acted about this 
time. The severe procedure against its apparently mild attack 
on the Scotch would indicate, however, that Calvert must have 

1 Winwood, Memorials, II, 41. 2 See below, p. no. 

s See below, pp. 105 IT. * Winwood, Memorials, II, 54. 

8 Fleay, English Drama, I, 108-110. 


exaggerated the frankness of the satire which was allowed to go 
unsuppressed. The play's hit at the King's numerous bestowals 
of knighthood — granted often, it was hinted, for the sake of the 
fee — in the line " I ken the man weel, he's one of my thirty pound 
knights," 1 seems to have passed uncondemned, as did similar 
allusions in other dramas. 2 But the satirical reference, in Act III, 
Scene ii, to the Scotch adventurers who had followed the King to 
London, apparently brought down the royal wrath upon the 
authors. In the first edition of the play, issued in September, 
1605, the leaves containing this passage were cancelled and re- 
printed, and it occurs only in a few of the original copies. Cap- 
tain Seagull is describing the wonders of Virginia, — gold, pre- 
cious stones, and other treasures, — and as an added attraction 
he remarks: "And then you shall live freely there, without sar- 
geants, or courtiers, or lawyers, or intelligencers, only a few indus- 
trious Scots perhaps, who indeed are dispersed over the face of 
the whole earth. But as for them, there are no greater friends 
to Englishmen and England, when they are out on't, in the 
world, than they are. And for my own part, I would a hundred 
thousand of them were there, for we are all one countrymen now, 
ye know, and we should find ten times more comfort of them there 
than we do here." 3 This seems to be the passage meant by 
Jonson when he says that "he was delated by Sir James Murray 
to the King, for writing something against the Scots, in a play 
called Eastward Hoe." 4 But perhaps at the performance of the 
comedy these lines were made even more offensive. 

The trouble about this comedy caused Jonson's imprisonment 
for a time. The question of his various incarcerations because 
of his plays, which this incident brings up, is a puzzling one, not 
yet satisfactorily solved. Before the year 1605 he had appar- 
ently already been twice in difficulties. In just what trouble 
the Poetaster, acted in 1601, had involved him, we do not know ; 

1 Act IV, Scene i. 

3 See the Phoenix, in Bullen's Middleton, I, 135, note. 

8 Act III, Scene ii; Chatto and Windus edition of Chapman, 467. The 
portion expunged began at the words "only a few," and continued through the 
passage as it is here quoted. 

* Jonson's Conversations with Drummond, Gifford's edition of Jonson, IX, 



but the play seems to have been suppressed at some time, or 
there was an attempt to suppress it. Jonson's Dedication to 
Mr. Richard Martin, in the 1616 Folio, states that this gentle- 
man had formerly "preserved" the play, "which so much ig- 
norance and malice then conspired to have supprest." In the 
Apologctical Dialogue at the end, itself condemned by the 
authorities after one recital, we find that the author had been 
accused of "taxing the" law, and lawyers; captains, and the 
players, by their particular names." Jonson protests that he 
has attacked no" persons by name, only general vices. He 
denies any allusion to "the laws or their just ministers," both of 
which he deeply reverences. He did not attack the military 
profession in any way, he contends, and only some players. The 
details of this episode in the war of the theaters must apparently 
remain obscure. 

At a later date, probably soon after the accession of James, 
Jonson was in trouble because of his Sejanus. Henry Howard, 
Earl of Northampton, who was, Jonson tells us, the poet's 
mortal enemy, had him summoned before the Council because 
of this play, and accused "both of poperie and treason." * As 
Sejanus was altered before publication, it is impossible to say ' 
what justification, if any, there was for this charge. 2 Nor do 
we know the result of Jonson's appearance before the Council. 

His next difficulty of this sort, and apparently by far the most 
serious, was that caused by Eastward Hoe. There is some differ- 
ence of opinion concerning the details of this affair, which we 
need not attempt to settle conclusively here. Jonson's own 
account, as reported by Drummond, is plain enough. "He was 
delated by Sir James Murray to the King, for writing something 
against the Scots in a play called Eastward Hoe, and voluntarily 
imprisoned himself with Chapman and Marston, who had written 
it amongst them. The report was, that they should then have 
had their ears cut and their noses." But this fate they escaped. 
"After their delivery he banqueted all his friends." 3 

This story may be literally true, as it has come down to us. 

1 Jonson's Conversations with Drummond, Gifford's edition of Jonson, IX, 


2 Ibid., note. s Ibid., 390-391. 


But a group of letters, most of them discovered only recently, 
indicate that it may be inaccurate. These epistles were written 
by Jonson and Chapman in the year 1605, to the King, the Lord 
Chamberlain, and various influential patrons. They show that 
the two distinguished poets were at this time in prison, and se- 
riously concerned about their fate, — "committed hether," as 
Jonson complained, " unexamyned, nay unheard (a rite not com- 
monlie denyed to the greatest offenders)." Their alleged crime 
was a play, not named, which had apparently given offense to 
the King. It had been utterly misconstrued and misapplied, 
the poets asserted, and the offensive matter was only in " two 
clawses, and both of them not our owne." 1 

Was this imprisonment that which resulted from Eastward 
Hoe ? Or were Jonson and Chapman twice in custody together 
during the year 1605? Recent opinion has tended to the view 
that the letters refer to the Eastward Hoe affair. This seems 
indeed probable, though in that case Jonson's account of the 
matter, as reported by Drummond, is inaccurate. He did not 
imprison himself voluntarily with his fellow-authors; and Mar- 
ston was not in prison with them. Mr. Dobell, the discoverer 
of most of the letters in question, adopts this view, 2 as does Mr. 
Schelling, in his recent edition of Eastward Hoe. 3 Mr. Fleay, 
who knew only one of the letters, thought that this imprisonment 
of the two poets resulted from Sejanus, in which they had col- 
laborated. 4 The latest writer on Jonson, M. Castelain, in an 
elaborate discussion of the affair, holds that this trouble for 
Chapman and Jonson was the result neither of Seja?ms nor of 
Eastward Hoe, but probably of Sir Giles Goosecap, an anony- 
mous comedy which seems to have caused some difficulty with 
the censor on the occasion of its publication. 5 

1 Jonson's letter to the Earl of Salisbury is printed in Clifford's edition of his 
works, I, cxvii-cxviii. The other letters were first published in the Athencrum, 
March 30, 1901. All are conveniently reprinted in Schelling's edition of the 
play in the Belles Lettres Series. 

2 Athenceum, March 30, 1901. 3 Belles Lettres Series. 
* English Drama, I, 347. 

6 Castelain, Ben Jonson, 901 ff. On Sir Giles Goosecap see also Fleay, Eng- 
lish Drama, II, 322-323; and T. M. Parrott, The Authorship of Sir Gyles 
Goosecappe, in Modern Philology, IV, no. 1 (July, 1906). 


The cases made out for Sejanus and Sir Giles Goosecap seem 
by no means convincing. In the present state of our knowledge 
we may say that the letters in question, apparently refer most 
probably to Eastward Hoc, though this solution also presents 
difficulties. From our point of view the problem is not of great 
importance. We know, at all events, that two of the most dis- 
tinguished poets of their time were imprisoned because of po- 
litical or personal allusions, in one or more plays, distasteful to 
the King and others ; that for a time they feared serious conse- 
quences, but that their appeals to powerful patrons soon brought 
about their release. 

According to Mr. Fleay, the trouble about Eastward Hoe 
caused the inhibition of the Children of the Queen's Revels, who 
lost the Queen's patronage and for some time thereafter acted as 
"their own masters," under the name of the Children of the 
Revels. 1 How the company could have retained the right to per- 
form, if it had lost its royal patent, is not apparent ; nor does it 
seem likely that so severe a penalty would have been imposed 
for this offense. But until the very confused history of the 
children's companies during this decade is at least partially 
cleared up, it is impossible to say how dearly the Revels com- 
pany paid for its indiscretion. 

The same players were again in trouble a few years later — 
in 1608 — because of their production of Biron , s Conspiracy 
and B iron's Tragedy by Chapman, whose fondness for treating 
contemporary foreign history, and disrespectful portrayal of 
foreign royalty, now involved him in difficulties. M. de Beau- 
mont, the French Ambassador, had tried to prevent the per- 
formance of the plays, but without avail. "I caused certain 
players to be forbid from acting the history of the Duke of 
Biron," he writes on April 5, 1608. "When however they saw 
that the whole court had left town, they persisted in acting it ; 
nay, they brought upon the stage the Queen of France and 
Mademoiselle de Verneuil. The former, having first accosted 
the latter with very hard words, gave her a box on the ear. 

1 London Stage, 209. See also Thorndike, Influence of Beaumont and Fletcher 
on Shakspere, 20. 


At my suit three of them were arrested ; but the principal per- 
son, the author, escaped." ' From a letter of Chapman's, thank- 
ing the Duke of Lennox for a safe retreat, it appears probable 
that that nobleman sheltered the poet during this difficulty. 2 
There is extant another letter by Chapman which seems to 
refer to the two parts of Biron and which was apparently writ- 
ten a little later, when he was endeavoring to have them 
licensed for the press. 3 He is evidently addressing the censor 
— presumably Sir George Buc, though no name is given — and 
is highly indignant at this gentleman's refusal to allow the 
printing of the plays. It appears from the poet's words that 
at some time — whether after or before the Ambassador's com- 
plaint is not apparent — the Privy Council had thrice given 
special permission for the performance of the two dramas. 
" If the thrice allowance of the Counsaile for the Presentment 
gave not weight enoughe to draw yours after for the presse, 
my Breath is a hopeles adition." On Chapman's application 
for license to print, the censor had evidently complained that 
offensive lines were spoken at the performance, and refused his 
allowance for the press. The poet retorts indignantly that he 
did his " uttermost " to suppress the offensive passages and 
could do no more. " I see not myne owne Plaies; nor carrie 
the Actors Tongues in my mouthe." The objection to these 
plays he considers highly unreasonable and unjust. " Whoso- 
ever it were that first plaied the bitter Informer before the 
frenche Ambassador for a matter so far from offence; And of 
so much honor for his maister as those two partes containe, 
perform'd it with the Gall of a Wulff, and not of a man." 
Driven by his wrath to cast prudence aside, Chapman boldly 
reproaches Buc for his refusal and withdraws the request for 
a license. " But how safely soever Illiterate Aucthoritie setts 
up his Bristles against Poverty, methinkes yours (being accom 
panied with learning) should rebate the pointes of them, and 
soften the ficrcenes of those rude manners ; you know S r , They 
are sparkes of the lowest fier in Nature that fly out uppon 

1 Raumer, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, II, 219. 

2 Letter printed in Athenaum, April 6, 1901. 
» Ibid. 


weaknes with every puffe of Power; I desier not you should 
drenche your hand in the least daunger for mce : And therefore 
(with entreatie of my Papers returne) I cease ever to trouble 
you." This spirited letter is signed ' f By the poore subject of 
your office for the present." 

Possibly some of Chapman's powerful patrons again came 
to his aid. At all events, negotiations with the censor were 
evidently resumed almost at once and a compromise effected, 
for on June 5 of the same year, 1608, the two parts of Biron 
are entered in the Stationers' Register under Buc's license. 1 
To secure this allowance Chapman had to sacrifice a consid- 
erable portion of the plays, to which he refers in the Dedica- 
tion as "these poor dismembered poems." Act II of the Trag- 
edy is entirely omitted, — presumably the part containing the 
scene which offended the French Ambassador. From the Con- 
spiracy it appears that Chapman had also been indiscreet in 
representing English royalty. Act IV is obviously a recasting 
in narrative form of a scene at the English Court in which 
Queen Elizabeth had appeared and discoursed at length upon 
political affairs, and which probably contained imprudent allu- 
sions to the Essex Rebellion. 2 The sadly mutilated condition 
of the two plays shows that the censor had been aroused to 
severe measures, and it seems very likely, as has been already 
suggested, that it was the scandal attendant upon these dramas 
which caused the edict against " the representing of any mod- 
ern Christian kings." 3 

In the same despatch in which Beaumont Uells of Biron he 
informs us that some of the players were still recklessly satirizing 
the King upon the stage. "One or two days before, they had 
brought forward their own King, and all his favourites, in a very 
strange fashion. They made him curse and swear because he 
had been robbed of a bird, and beat a gentleman because he had 

1 Arber, Transcript, III, 380. 

3 See Fleay, English Drama, II, 62-64; London Stage, 185; Koeppel, Quel- 
Un-Studien zu den Dramen George Chapman's, 24 ff. Koeppel's conclusions 
as to the sources of the plays are corrected by F. S. Boas in the Athenaum, 
January 10, 1903. 

3 See below, p. 119. 



called off the hounds from the scent. ^ They represent him as 
drunk at least once a day, &cA He has upon this made order 
that no play shall be henceforth' acted in London ; for the re- 
peal of which order, they have already offered 100,000 livres. 
Perhaps the permission will be again granted, but upon condi- 
tion that they represent no recent history, nor speak of the 
present time." kl Possibly the Ambassador was exaggerating the 
rigor of the order which resulted from these plays. But ap- 
parently one or more companies got into rather serious trouble 
because of their impertinence. 

That severe measures were sometimes taken against sacri-^ 
legious and libellous performances, appears from a report of a 
Star Chamber trial in May, 1610. The case was that of Henry, 
Earl of Lincoln, against Sir Edward Dymock and others, "for 
contriving and acting a stage play on a Sabbath day, on a May- 
pole green near Sir Edward Dymock's house, containing scurri- 
lous and slanderous matter against the said Earl by name." 
After the play ended, one of the actors, it appears, "attired like 
a minister, went up into the pulpit attached to the Maypole with 
a book in his hands, and did most profanely, in derision of the 
holy exercise of preaching, pronounce vain and scurrilous mat- 
ter, and afterwards affixed to the Maypole an infamous libel 
against the said Earl." The punishments ordered for these 
\ offenses were extremely heavy. The three principal actors were 
sentenced to be pilloried and whipped at Westminster Hall ; and 
then to be taken into Lincolnshire and suffer the same punish- 
ments again. Here they were also to "acknowledge their 
offenses and to ask God and the Earl forgiveness," and to pay a 
fine of £300 apiece. Sir Edward Dymock, as privy and consent- 
ing to the performance, was to be committed to the Fleet during 
the King's pleasure, and to be fined ^iooo. 2 The offense was 
evidently a serious one; and the severity of the punishments 
ordered shows what fate might befall players who were, as these 
seem to have been, without patent or powerful patron. 

At about this time Tilney died, and Buc came into complete 

1 Raumer, op. cit., II, 219-220. 

1 Historical MSS. Commission Reports, III, 57. 


possession of the Revels Office. An interesting manuscript 
play-book, dating from 161 1, the year after Tilney's death, illus- 
trates the sort of "reformations" which Hue made in the plays 
submitted to him for license. This is Lansdowne MS. 807, 
of the play which Hue named the Second Maiden's Tragedy, 
apparently from its slight resemblance to the Maid's Tragedy, 
by Beaumont and Fletcher. "This Second Mayden's Tragedy 
(for it has no name inscribed) may with the reformacions bee 
acted publikely. 31. October. 1611. G. Bug" It was generally 
customary to name the play in the license to act, and as this 
lacked a title, Buc thus supplied one. 1 

The manuscript contains some markings and erasures by the 
author or the manager, to shorten it for acting purposes, and it is 
not always possible to distinguish these from the censor's expur- 
gations. Sometimes Buc made a cross in the margin to call 
attention to his reformations, but not always. 

The plot represents the love of a Lady (unnamed) for the 
deposed King, Govianus, and the efforts of the usurping Tyrant 
to force her to become his mistress, — a fate which she finally 
escapes by her suicide. Evidently the censor was sensitive on 
the subject of kings' mistresses and vice in high places, and he \y 
struck out many lines portraying or denouncing the royal lust, — 
apparently on the ground that such suggestions were disrespect- 
ful to the Sovereign. For example, in Act II, Scene i, in Hel- 
vetius' speech urging his daughter to become the King's mistress, 
nine and a half lines, beginning " That glister in the sun of prince's 
favours," are marked for omission. 2 In the same scene, where 
Govianus bitterly reproaches Helvetius for urging his daughter 
to this dishonor, thirty-one lines, commencing " Hadst thou been 
anything beside her father," are marked in the margin, appar- 
ently for expurgation. They consist of violent denunciation of 

1 In view of Buc's explicit statement that it had no name, it is surprising to 
find Mr. Fleay conjecturing, "I think the Master of the Revels objected to the 
true title, The Usurping Tyrant, and substituted this." (English Drama, II, 

The play is printed in the Old English Drama, I; in Hazlitt's Dodsley, X; 
and, with the best text, in the Chatto and Windus edition of Chapman's Works 
(1875) among "Doubtful Plays and Fragments." 

2 Chatto and Windus edition, 356; Lansdowne MS. 807, folio 36. 


Hclvetius and of "the lustful king, thy master." One line is 
crossed through as especially obnoxious and reflecting upon 
morals in high places, — the second of the following : — 

"To end the last act of thy life in pandarism, 
(As you perhaps will say your betters do)." 

In Hclvetius' reply, when he repents, and thanks Govianus for 
his conversion, " Smart on, soul !" and the five following lines — 
a passage where the now repentant father speaks of the loath- 
someness of his offense — are marked for omission. 1 Similarly, 
in Act II, Scene iii, when Helvetius violently reproaches the King 
for his unlawful passion, the six lines beginning "You'll prefer 
all your old courtiers to good services," and the last three of the 
same speech, are marked. 2 So also in Act V, Scene ii, are twelve 
lines of Govianus' denunciation of the Tyrant, beginning "O 
thou sacrilegious villain !" 3 

In view of the many lustful tyrants freely portrayed in the 
drama of the period, and notably in the recent Maid's Tragedy, 
to which Buc's note refers, one may wonder why the censor, if 
the marks are his, or the manager, chose these passages for 
omission. That no mere feeling of decency caused the expurga- 
tions is evident from many of the points left unmarked. There 
is no doubt, however, about the final passage condemned as dis- 
respectful to royalty. In Act V, Scene ii, when the expiring 
Tyrant exclaims "Your king's poison'd!" Buc drew a line 
through these words, substituted "I am poison'd !" and made a 
cross in the margin to call especial attention to this reformation, 
— the propriety of which is evident from the disrespectful excla- 
mation with which Memphonius greets the news, "The king of 
heaven be praised for it!" * 

Besides these passages reflecting on royalty, the censor has 
expurgated lines for various other causes. His care for religion 
is apparently shown in the omission of the speech of the humor- 
ous First Soldier, in Act V, Scene ii, beginning " By this hand, 
mere idolatry," and in its reference to Latin prayers seeming 
to allude disrespectfully to the Roman Catholic religion. 5 An 

1 Chatto and Windus edition, 357; Lansdowne MS., 807, folio 37. 

s p. 3 6i;f. 40. s p. 378; f. 54- * p. 379; f- 55- s P-377Jf-53- 


amusing instance of consideration for the feelings of the gentry 
is to be seen in Act IV, Scene i, where the Wife of Votarius, in 
speaking of the loose behavior of maidservants, remarks " There's 
many a good knight's daughter is in service," and " knight " has 
been carefully altered to " man." x In Act I, Scene i, Govianus' 
speech beginning "Weighty and serious," a fiercely satirical 
portrait of the Third Nobleman, is marked for omission. 2 As 
it has nothing to do with the plot, it may have been a hit at some 
actual nobleman, and expurgated for this reason. 

One rather surprising set of "reformations" is to be found in 
several passages reflecting on the character of women. Such 
consideration for the feelings of the weaker sex is hardly to be 
expected in the drama of the period; yet the purpose of these 
alterations seems evident, and some of them are unmistakably 
by the censor. In Act I, Scene i, in a speech by the Tyrant, the 
four lines beginning "A woman to set light by sovereignty!" 
are struck out. 3 They are rather mild, referring to women's 
desire to rule, and expressing surprise that the Lady should cleave 
to the deposed king, and not turn her affections to the usurper. 
A clearer case is found in Act III, Scene i, when, after the Lady 
has killed herself to escape the Tyrant's passion, Govianus 
ironically remarks that few women would have acted thus, and 
declares "They'll rather kill themselves with lust than for it." 
Lines are drawn through this and the preceding two lines, and 
Buc's cross in the margin makes clear his disapproval. 4 He 
was even more particular in Act IV, Scene iii, where the Tyrant 
laments over the dead body of the Lady, and asserts that most 
women would have advised her against the death in which she 
sought refuge from his lawless passion. 

"Hadst thou but asked th' opinion of most ladies, 
Thoud'st never come to this!" 

Buc marks a large cross in the margin and alters " most " to 
" many," producing a dire effect on the meter, and not vastly 
greater courtesy to the feminine sex. 5 

The Master's care in expunging oaths, in conformity with the 

1 p. 36cS; f. 44. J p. 348; f. 29. s p. 349; *• 3°- 

4 p. 366; f. 43. »p. 372; f. 49. 


statute of 1636/ is frequently apparent, and generally disastrous 
to the meter. "'Sheart" or "Heart," and '"Slife" or "Life," 
he often crosses out ; nor will he permit " By th' mass." 2 But he 
frequently nods, and passes over "Life." "Faith," he seems 
never to object to, as Herbert did later. 3 

Early in 1613 occurs a case of interference by the authorities 
which is not altogether easy to understand, and indeed not of any 
particular importance. Some London apprentices, apparently 
ambitious in amateur theatricals, gave an invitation performance 
of Taylor's The Hog hath Lost his Pearl, in the YYhitefriars 
theater. The Sheriffs broke up the assemblage and imprisoned 
some of the actors. We learn of all this from the following letter 
of Sir Henry Wotton to Sir Edmund Bacon : — 

"On Sunday last at night, and no longer, some sixteen Apprentices 
(of what sort you shall guess by the rest of the Story) having secretly 
learnt a new Play without Book, intituled, The Hog hath lost his 
Pearl; took up the White Fryers for their Theatre: and having 
invited thither (as it should seem) rather their Mistresses than their 
Masters; who were all to enter per buletini for a note of distinction 
from ordinary Comedians. Towards the end of the Play, the Sheriffs 
(who by chance had heard of it) came in (as they say) and carried 
some six or seven of them to perform the last Act at Bridewel; the 
rest are fled. Now it is strange to hear how sharp-witted the City is, 
for they will needs have Sir John Swinerton the Lord Maior be meant 
by the Hog, and the late Lord Treasurer by the Pearl." 4 

Just what is the meaning of "a new Play without Book" no 
one seems to have conjectured. Possibly it refers to the absence 
of a licensed play-book, — that is, of authorization by the Master 
of the Revels. The Prologue, in the edition of 1614, bears out 
this idea, for it states that the play was " tossed from one house 
to another," until it had "a knight's license" and might "range 
at pleasure," — that is, until it received Sir George Buc's au- 
thorization. That he did at some time license this play, we know 
from a note by Herbert in later years. 5 Whether the Sheriffs 
broke up the first performance because the apprentices had no 

1 See above, pp. 19-20. 

2 For examples of these corrections, see folios 34, 35, 38, 43, 49, etc. 

s See below, p. 128. * Rcliquia Wottoniana (1672 edition), 402-403. 

1 1S21 Variorum, III, 263, note. 


license for their acting or for the play; or because, as Mr. Fleay 
states, the production was on Sunday; l or because of the sup- 
posed representation of the Lord Mayor and the late Lord 
Treasurer, we cannot now say. The Prologue indicates that 
there had been considerable question of these alleged allusions, 
for it expressly disclaims any "grunting at state-affairs" and 
"inverting at city vices." 2 

The next few years of Buc's administration show several cases 
of interference by the government. The first of these is appar- 
ently an interesting survival of a sort of Roman Catholic contro- 
versial morality. In 1614, at Sir John York's house in York- 
shire, there was a private performance of a "scandalous play 
acted in favor of Popery," in which the Devil declared that all 
Protestants were eternally lost, and carried King James off on 
his back to the fiery lower regions. For this seditious perform- 
ance, Sir John York, his wife, and his brother were fined and 
imprisoned. 3 A less flagrant case occurred in 161 7, when the 
Privy Council interfered to prevent the production of a play rep- 
resenting Marshal d'Ancre. On June 22 they wrote as follows 
to the Master of the Revels. "We are informed that there are 
certain Players, or Comedians, we know not of what Company, 
that go about to play some enterlude concerning the late Mar- 
quesse d'Ancre, which for many respects we think not fit to be 
suffered. We do therefore require you, upon your peril, to take 
order that the same be not represented or played in any place 
about this City, or elsewhere where you have authority." 4 As 
the responsibility for the Marshal's death was assumed by the 
young King Louis XIII, this proceeding was directed by obvious 
political caution. 5 

1 London Stage, 251. 

2 The title-page — not the Wotton letter, as Mr. Fleay says — states that the 
play was "divers times publicly acted by certain London Prentices." See Fleay, 
English Drama, II, 256. 

The play is printed in Hazlitt's Dodsley, XI. 

s Slate Papers, Dom., 1611-1618, 242; 1628-1629, 333; Historical MSS. 
Commission Reports, III, 63. 

* Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 391-392; Chalmers, Apology, 492. 

'See Ward, English Dramatic Literature, III, 234, note; and an interesting 
document in State Papers, Dom., 1611-1618, 461. 



By far the most interesting example of the censorship in Buc's 
administration is that of the admirable historical tragedy, Sir 
John Van Olden Barnevelt, probably by Fletcher and Massinger. 1 
The patriot Barnevelt, devoted and successful servant of his 
country, but opponent of the warlike policies of the ambitious 
Maurice of Orange, was arrested for treason and executed by 
order of that Prince on May 13, 1619. In view of the great interest 
felt by the English in the affairs of the Low Countries, and the 
dramatic features of the story, it is not surprising that the subject 
should have been chosen for a play. Within three months after 
Barnevelt's death, his career was ready for presentation on the 
London stage. On August 14 Thomas Locke wrote to Carleton, 
the English Ambassador at The Hague, "The Players heere were 
bringing of Barnevelt vpon the stage, and had bestowed a great 
deale of money to prepare all things for the purpose, but at th' 
instant were prohibited by my Lo: of London." 2 "My Lord 
of London" apparently means John King, Bishop of London, 3 
who may have objected to the play on account of its connection 
with the Arminian controversy, which had aroused some excite- 
ment in England. Barnevelt, in the drama, professes himself an 
Arminian. 4 Whatever the Bishop's objection, it was apparently 
not insuperable, for on August 27 another letter from Locke to 
Carleton says, "Our players have fownd the meanes to goe 
through w th the play of Barnevelt, and it hath had many spec- 
tators and receaued applause." 5 The surviving manuscript 6 
shows the corrections made by the Master of the Revels, but no 
license to act. Possibly this was written on some sheet now lost ; 
or it may have been refused, and the play performed without his 
authorization. We have, however, no further indication that 

1 Printed in Bullen, Old Plays, II, 201 ff. On the authorship, see note by 
Boyle, ibid., 434 ff. 

2 State Papers, Dom., 1619-1623, 71. Printed in full in Bullen, Old Plays, IV, 


3 See Sidney Lee, in Bullen, op. cit., IV, 381. The title is so interpreted also in 
the State Papers. Mr. Fleay understands it otherwise. See above, p. 19, note. 

4 Act I, Scene ii. 

1 State Papers, Dom., 1619-1623, 73. Printed in full in Bullen, Old Plays, 
IV, 381. 

8 British Museum Add. MS. 18,653. 


the tragedy was offensive to the government, except the fact that 
it was never printed, either in the Fletcher Folios or elsewhere. 

This striking political tragedy preserves in tone a balance 
between sympathy for Barnevelt and support of the Prince of 
Orange. In the earlier scenes, the great Advocate is not pre- 
sented as an admirable character, — rather as a political in- 
triguer, ambitious, proud, and egotistical. In the latter part, how- 
ever, he is nobly and sympathetically portrayed, — as one who 
has done great services for his country, as the beloved leader of 
the people, as the spokesman of political liberty. The Prince 
of Orange is throughout treated with almost unvarying respect. 
He is sympathetically represented as a brave and noble leader, 
generously unwilling to punish Barnevelt and the other con- 
spirators, but finally submitting to the insistence of the Coun- 
cil. x The unimportant character of the Englishwoman seems 
to be introduced chiefly to speak in favor of the Prince and in 
contempt of his opponents. As the play goes on, however, and 
Barnevelt appears more admirable, the figure of Maurice becomes 
less attractive. 

Though the attitude of the authors towards the English 
Sovereign is unfailingly respectful, the references to James, to 
the Gowry conspiracy, and to the Gunpowder Plot being in 
phrases of impeccable loyalty, the dangerous political analogy 
of the play is obvious. As Mr. Boyle has very well put it, 
" There is no doubt that the audience wandered away in their 
thoughts from Sir John Van Olden Barnevelt, the saviour of 
his country from the Spanish yoke, as he professed himself in 
his defense on his trial, and Spain's determined enemy, to Sir 
Walter Raleigh, whose head had just fallen on the block, the 
victim of a perfidious foe and of a mean, shuffling king." 2 Nor 
could the passion for civil liberty, which breaks in one scene into 
fiery eloquence, have gone unrebuked under the Stuart despot- 

If Buc's corrections of the Second Maiden's Tragedy show the 
sort of "reformation" he administered to romantic tragedies 
and tragi-comedies, this manuscript reveals his attitude towards 

1 See especially Act III, Scene ii. 

1 Note by Boyle, in Bullen, Old Plays, II, 434. 


political and historical dramas. He was evidently somewhat 
disturbed at the representation upon the stage of the Prince of 
Orange. To make the indiscretion less obvious, he twice strikes 
out " Prince of Orange," and substitutes "the valiant Prince," or 
"this Prince that contemns us," adding his warning cross in the 
margin. 1 In Act I, Scene iii, the Prince has been speaking of 
the ingratitude and disrespect shown him, and the Guard now 
refuses him admittance to the Council Chamber. At this point 
Buc notes in the margin, "I like not this: neither do I think 
that the pr. was thus disgracefully used, besides he is too much 
presented," and signs his initials, "G. B." 2 

Some of Buc's expurgations were made so effectively that it 
is impossible to decipher the text beneath. In Act I, Scene i, 
for example, on the first folio of the manuscript, he has twice 
marked out words and placed a cross on the margin; but the 
condemned phrases are illegible. And at the end of the same 
scene, a speech thirteen lines long is entirely obliterated. 3 Sim- 
ilarly, in Act II, Scene i, when Barnevelt is speaking against the 
Prince of Orange and against tyranny, six lines are scored through 
and two crosses made. 4 In the trial scene, also, after the Prince's 
speech rehearsing Barnevelt 's faults, twenty lines are expurgated 
by the censor's pen. 5 Mr. Bullen thinks that these last, as well 
as twenty-six lines shortly before and about twenty immediately 
following, were cut out by the author, to shorten the scene. But 
it seems possible in this play to distinguish the two sorts of cor- 
rection. Buc draws a horizontal line through the text, and puts 
crosses in the margin, — three of them, in the course of these 
twenty lines. The author makes a sort of curly line through 
the text, without marginal mark. It was he, apparently, who 
cut out the other forty or more erased lines in this scene, probably 
to make it harmonize with the censor's reformations. 6 

On the whole, the Master's corrections evidently involved a 

'Bullen, Old Plays, II, 218, 231; Add. MS. 18,653, folios 4, 7. At two 
other points, however, the full title of Prince of Orange is left undisturbed 
(PP- 233. 245. folios 9, 11). 

2 p. 222; f. 5. And see Bullen, op. at., II, 204. 

3 p. 216; f. 3. 4 p. 233; f. 9. 8 p. 289; f. 23. 

' A similar erasure by the author is to be seen on folio 9, at the opening of 
Act II, Scene ii. 


considerable portion of the play. But it docs not appear that 
Buc was unreasonably severe. He left in some passages which 
might have been judged at the time irreverent to royalty. For 
example, the eloquent speeches of Barnevclt in Act III, Scene i, 
in which he proudly refuses to submit to the Prince and seek 
his mercy, are unexpurgated, — notably the lines — 

"What is this man, this Prince, this God ye make now, 
But what our hands have molded?" ' 

In the strikingly fine speech of Barnevelt at the end of his 
trial, however, the voice of protest against despotism and eulogy 
of political liberty rang out too unmistakably; and Buc saw the 
danger. The alterations here are undoubtedly by the censor's 
pen, showing his horizontal lines through the text and his warn- 
ing crosses in the margin. The significant passage of the speech 
is the following close : — 

"You rise, and I grow tedious; let me take 
My farwell of you yet, and at the place 
Where I have oft byn heard; and, as my life 
Was ever fertile of good councells for you, 
It shall not be in the last moment barren. 
Octavius, when he did affect the Empire 
And strove to tread upon the neck of Rome 
And all hir ancient freedoms, tooke that course 
That now is practisd on you; for the Catos 
And all free sperritts slaine or els proscribd 
That durst have stir'd against him, he then sceasd 
The absolute rule of all. You can apply this: 
And here I prophecie I, that have lyvd 
And dye a free man, shall when I am ashes 
Be sensible of your groanes and wishes for me; 
And when too late you see this Goverment 
Changd to a Monarchie youll howle in vaine 
And wish you had a Barnevelt againe. 
Now lead me where you will: a speedy Sentence: 
I am ready for it and 'tis all I ask you." 

The shocking application which might be made of all this 
was apparent to Buc. He evidently first corrected the most 

1 p. 248; f. 12. 


offensive phrases. He struck out "tooke that course That now 
is practise! on you," and wrote in the margin " cutt of his oppo- 
sites." He crossed out the too significant "You can apply 
this"; and he altered "to a Monarchic" to read "to another 
forme." Then, apparently deciding that the whole passage 
was too dangerous, and should be entirely omitted or radically 
altered, he drew a line through all the text from "Octavius" 
through "howle in vaine." * The example is an interesting 
one, and shows in an unmistakable manner the fate that awaited 
any expression in the drama of revolt against the Stuart tyranny 
and craving for the ancient liberties of Englishmen. 

No other notable case of censorship occurs until the admin- 
istration of Herbert, whose Office Book gives us many vivid 
glimpses of the sort of supervision he exercised over the drama. 
Stage historians have been accustomed to regard Sir Henry as 
a rather pedantic, interfering censor, with sensibilities almost 
puritanical. But we get this impression of him chiefly because 
we know so much about him. His Office Book, often more 
like a diary, reveals him intimately as a somewhat pompous 
person, rather particular in his duties at times. If we had Til- 
ney's and Buc's Registers, however, the earlier Masters might 
appear to have been equally exacting. Indeed, Herbert's 
"reformations" were apparently no more detailed and fussy than 
those of Buc in the Second Maiden's Tragedy; and I see no 
reason for accusing him of Puritan sympathies except the ex- 
purgation of oaths, to which he was bound by the statute and 
which Buc had practised before him. 2 He said he was more 
strict with the poets than his predecessors had been ; 3 but the 
scenes which he passed without comment indicate that his con- 
cern was by no means a puritanically moral one. 

The first important case of his administration shows him as 
rather lenient than otherwise. For years public feeling had been 
running high against James' feeble policy of friendship with 
Spain, culminating in the project of the marriage of Charles, 
Prince of Wales, with the Infanta Maria. In Gondomar, 
Spanish Ambassador at London, the people saw the very incar- 

1 p. 292; f. 24. 'See above, pp. 111-112. 'See above, p. 82. 


nation of the Spanish and Jesuitical intrigue which they so hated. 
But the proposed match fell through. In October, 1623, to 
the joy of the English, Charles and Buckingham returned from 
Madrid without the Spanish bride; James' policy was finally 
overturned ; and Buckingham now headed the movement against 
Spain. In March, 1624, war was declared between the two 
countries, and in August the playwright Middleton seized this 
opportunity of catching the popular fancy by embodying in a 
symbolical play the hatred of Spanish intrigue and the joy at 
its defeat. His famous Game at Chess, under the thin disguise 
of the pieces on a chess-board, sets forth a story of perfidious 
Jesuit plotting and, more notably, a portrayal of the visit of 
Charles and Buckingham to the Spanish Court. The White 
and Black Kings and Queens respectively represent the English 
and Spanish sovereigns. The White Knight seems to be Charles, 
the White Duke, Buckingham, and — to omit the other char- 
acters — the Black Knight is a scurrilously bitter portrait of 
Gondomar. 1 

In spite of the almost unparalleled boldness of this treatment 
of current events, the play obtained Herbert's official license, and 
was acted by the King's company at the Globe nine times, amid 
great enthusiasm. Then, upon the complaint of the Spanish 
Ambassador to the King, the Game at Chess was suppressed. 
The official correspondence, which has survived, throws an 
interesting light on the affair. 2 On August 12 Mr. Secretary 
Conway sent the following letter to the Privy Council : — 

"His Majesty hath received information from the Spanish Am- 
bassador of a very scandalous comedy acted publickly by the King's 
players, wherein they take the boldness and presumption, in a rude 
and dishonourable fashion, to represent on the stage the persons of 
his Majesty, the King of Spain, the Conde de Gondomar, the Bishop 
of Spalato, &c. His Majesty remembers well there was a command- 
ment and restraint given against the representing of any modern 
Christian kings in those stage-plays; and wonders much both at the 

1 For a full and excellent account of the play and the circumstances of its 
production, see Ward, English Dramatic Literature, II, 524 ff. On the identifi- 
cation of the characters, see also Fleay, English Drama, II, 106. 

2 Printed in part in Chalmers, Apology, 496 ff. ; in Dyce's edition of Middle- 
ton; and, in full, in Bullen's edition of Middleton, I, lxxviii ff. 


boldness now taken by that company, and also that it hath been per- 
mitted to be so acted, and that the first notice thereof should be 
brought to him by a foreign ambassador, while so many ministers of 
his own are thereabouts, and cannot but have heard of it. His Maj- 
esty's pleasure is, that your Lordships presently call before you as 
well the poet that made the comedy as the comedians that acted it: 
And upon examination of them to commit them, or such of them as 
you shall find most faulty, unto prison, if you find cause, or otherwise 
take security for their forthcoming; and then certify his Majesty 
what you find that comedy to be, in what points it is most offensive, 
by whom it was made, by whom licensed, and what course you think 
fittest to be held for the exemplary and severe punishment of the pres- 
ent offenders, and to restrain such insolent and licentious presump- 
tion for the future." l 

On August 21 the Privy Council replied. They have called 
some of the principal actors before them, they report, and 
"demanded of them by what license and authority they have 
presumed to act" the scandalous comedy. "In answer whereto 
they produced a book being an original and perfect copy thereof 
(as they affirmed) seen and allowed by Sir Henry Herbert, Knt., 
Master of the Revels, under his own hand, and subscribed in 
the last page of the said book : We demanding further, whether 
there were not other parts or passages represented on the stage 
than those expressly contained in the book, they confidently 
protested they added or varied from the same nothing at all." 
The poet, one Middleton, the Lords report, has "shifted out 
of the way" ; but they have sent a messenger to apprehend him. 
They have sharply reproved the players, forbidden them to act 
this comedy any more, or any play whatsoever until his Maj- 
esty's pleasure be further known, and made them give bond 
for their attendance upon the Council when wanted. Instead 
of telling the King the offensive passages, they send the book, 
subscribed by the Master of the Revels, so that Conway, or some 
one appointed by the King, may peruse the play, and " call Sir 
Henry Herbert before you to know a reason of his licensing 
thereof, who (as we are given to understand) is now attending 
at court." 2 

The responsibility of the affair was now shifted to the shoul- 

1 Bullen's Middleton, I, lxxviii-lxxix. 3 Ibid., lxxix-lxxx. 


ders of the Master of the Revels, who seems to have interceded 
at once with his kinsman and superior officer, the Earl of Pem- 
broke, Lord Chamberlain. On August 27 Conway wrote again 
to the Council, expressing the King's satisfaction with their 
procedure, and bidding them "examine by whose direction and 
application the personating of Gondomar and others was done ; 
and that being found out, the party or parties to be severely 
punished, his Majesty being unwilling for one's sake and only 
fault to punish the innocent or utterly to ruin the company." ! 
Pembroke had evidently been soothing the King's feelings and 
had settled the affair. On the same day he wrote to the Lord 
President of the Council, reviewing the history of the case, and 
stating that the players had petitioned the King that they might 
be allowed to perform again. "His Majesty now conceives the 
punishment," writes the Lord Chamberlain, "if not satisfactory 
for that their insolency, yet such as since it stopps the current 
of their poore livelyhood and maintenance, without much preju- 
dice they cannot longer undergoe. In consideration therefore 
of those his poore servants, his Majesty would have their Lord- 
ships connive at any common play lycensed by authority, that 
they shall act as before." But the players are to be " bound " not 
to repeat the Game at Chess, and the Lords are to continue their 
efforts to find out who was originally responsible for the produc- 
tion of the play. 2 

As Middleton had "shifted out of the way," his son Edward 
was brought before the Council, but released with the injunction 
to attend again whenever required. 3 There seems to be no re- 
liable evidence for the story that Middleton himself was impris- 
oned because of the play, and freed on sending to the King a 
petition in humorous doggerel. 4 It appears, then, that for this 
grave indiscretion the only punishment inflicted was the sup- 
pression of the company for about two weeks. This leniency 
is not hard to understand. The players and the poet were ab- 
solved from real responsibility by the license of the Master of 
the Revels, who was, in his turn, protected from serious conse- 
quences by his influence with the Lord Chamberlain. Moreover, 

1 Bullen's Middleton, I, lxxx-lxxxi. 2 Ibid., lxxxi-lxxxii. 3 Ibid., l.xxxii. 
*Ibid., Ixxxiii; and see Ward, English Dramatic Literature, II, 497. 


the King's Spanish policy was now reversed, Charles and Buck- 
ingham were in command, and the all-powerful "White Duke" 
must have looked kindly on the play which celebrated the course 
he was now guiding. 

The eagerness with which the public welcomed dramatic repre- 
sentation of such vital current politics is strikingly evident in 
the great enthusiasm which greeted the Game at Chess. This 
is made vivid by a letter from Chamberlain to Carleton, dated 
August 21, 1624, in which he speaks of the "famous play of 
Gondomar, which hath been followed with extraordinary curios- 
ity, and frequented by all sorts of people, old and young, rich 
and poor, masters and servants, papists, wise men, &c, church- 
men and Scotsmen." 1 The exceptional applause which the 
play won was remembered as a stage tradition for many years. 2 
But the authorities continued to frown upon it, and the early 
printed editions apparently had to be issued surreptitiously, 
without license, for they are not entered in the Stationers' 
Register. 3 

Perhaps the trouble over the Game at Chess made Herbert 
more careful. In the following December he evidently threat- 
ened the same company of players with serious consequences 
for having performed without his license a play called the Span- 
ish Viceroy. Their humble submission on this occasion has 
already been quoted. 4 There is no evidence to show that the 
play contained dangerous political allusions. It has not been 
positively identified, but has been supposed to be by Massinger. 5 

In 1625 the Privy Council interfered again to guard the feel- 
ings of a foreign government. "The East India Company," 
writes Locke to Carleton, "have ordered Greenbury, a painter, 
to paint a detailed picture of all the tortures inflicted on the Eng- 
lish at Amboyna, and would have had it all acted in a play, but 
the Council was appealed to by the Dutch ministers, and stopped 
it, for fear of a disturbance this Shrovetide." 6 

A case of trouble for the poet Massinger appears in Herbert's 

1 Bullen's Middleton, I, Ixxxiv. 2 See ibid., lxxxvi. 

3 See Fleay, London Stage, 256. * See above, p. 77. 

•See Ward, English Dramatic Literature, III, 8-9. 
8 State Papers, Dom., Add., 1623-1625, 48. 


Office Book on January n, 163 1, when the Master noted that 
ho had refused to license a play by that dramatist because "it 
did contain dangerous matter, as the deposing of Sebastian, king 
of Portugal, by Philip, there being a peace sworn 'twixt the Kings 
of England and Spain." l Massingcr thereupon thoroughly 
revised the play, duly removing the most "dangerous matter " 
and altering names and scenes. He then submitted it again 
to Herbert. This time the Master licensed it without question, 
and it appeared under the title Believe As You List, with an 
apology in its prologue for coming "too near a late and sad 
example." This second draft which Massinger submitted to 
the Revels Office still survives in his autograph manuscript, 
showing Herbert's license. 2 In several places the author at 
first inadvertently wrote the original names, and then corrected 
them. "Sebastian" appears twice, "Carthage" is written over 
"Venice," and there are other similar slips. To what extent 
the original play was altered in other respects it is impossible 
to say, as, except in a few instances like these, the process of 
revision was completed before the author made his fair copy 
for the licenser. 3 

Gardiner's paper on the Political Elements in Massinger* 
points out in Believe As You List a striking analogy to Charles' 
attitude at this 1 date towards his brother-in-law Frederick, 
Elector Palatine and titular King of Bohemia. In this play, 
as well as in several others, Gardiner thinks that Massinger 
was representing, under a thin disguise, current political events ; 
and portraying them from the standpoint of the faction to 
which belonged his patrons the Herberts, Earls of Pembroke 
and Montgomery. In the Bondman, for example, in the char- 
acter of Gisco he satirized the Duke of Buckingham, then op- 
posed by Pembroke ; but in the Great Duke of Florence, some 
four years later, he exhibited towards the favorite the new and 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 229-231. 

2 The license is reproduced in facsimile in the edition of the play in the 
Percy Society Publications, XXVII, 105. 

3 See An Autograph Play of Philip Massingcr, in the Athenaum, January 19, 
1901. The MS. is now in the British Museum. 

* New Shakspcre Society Transactions, 1876; reprinted from Contemporary 
Review, August, 1876. 


friendly attitude now felt by the brothers Herbert. The Maid 
of Honor, again, according to Gardiner, shows a striking sim- 
ilarity to the policy followed by Charles and James towards the 
Elector Frederick. 

The analogies which Gardiner points out are interesting and 
often plausible. It is possible that Massinger was indeed putting 
into the plays this political significance; and if he was doing 
it in support of the faction favored by Pembroke, that nobleman, 
as Lord Chamberlain, perhaps protected him from trouble with 
the censor. At all events, the allusions seem to have been 
sufficiently veiled to avoid stirring up much public notice or the 
wrath of the King. 

In 1632, the year following Believe As You List, Herbert noted 
in his Register his displeasure at Shirley and Chapman's The 
Ball. The offense in this case was the manner in which "divers 
lords and others of the Court" were represented. On receiving 
promises of omissions, however, and of not "suffering it to be 
done by the poet any more," Herbert allowed the play. 1 In 
the next year, 1633, there appears to have been a veritable 
epidemic of offensive language among the playwrights. In 
May, 1633, Inigo Jones complained of his being represented in 
the character of Vitruvius Hoop, in Jonson's Tale of a Tub, "as 
a personal injury unto him"; and the Lord Chamberlain com- 
manded Herbert to allow the play only on condition that Vitru- 
vius Hoop's part and "the motion of the Tub" be "wholly 
struck out." 2 In June, in allowing the Seaman's Honest Wife, 
Sir Henry was so offended by its numerous oaths that he ap- 
pended to his license the following note : " I command your 
Bookeeper to present mee with a faire Copy hercaft. and to 
leave out all oathes, prophancss & publick Ribaldry as he will 
answer it at his perill. H. Herbert." 3 

The trouble with Fletcher's Woman's Prize, or The Tamer 
Tamed, followed in October, and resulted, as we have seen, in 
Herbert's closer supervision of revived plays. 4 On complaint 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 231-232. On the altered passages, see Fleay, English 
Drama, II, 239. 

1 1S21 Variorum, III, 232. ' Bullen, Old Plays, II, 432. 

* See above, p. 82. 


of the "foul and offensive matters" which it contained, the Mas- 
ter suppressed the play and sent for the book, which he returned 
to the company three days later, " purgd of oaths, prophaness, 
and ribald rye," and with the following note "subscribed and 
directed to Knight, their book-keeper," who had evidently 
already tried his hand at expurgating it. 

•Mr. Knight, 

"In many things you have saved mee labour; yet wher your judg- 
ment or penn fayld you, I have made boulde to use mine. Purge 
ther parts, as I have the booke. And I hope every hearer and player 
will thinke that I have done God good servisc, and the quality no 
wronge ; who hath no greater enemies than oaths, prophaness, and 
publique ribaldry, \vh ch for the future I doe absolutely forbid to bee 
presented unto mee in any playbooke, as you will answer it at your 
perill. 21 Octob. 1633." 

The incident was closed three days later, when, as Herbert 
tells us, the players apologized. "Lowins and Swanston were 
sorry for their ill manners, and craved my pardon, which I gave 
them in presence of Mr. Taylor and Mr. Benfeilde." 1 

Though the publisher of the Fletcher Folio asserts that the 
text is restored to its original form, we may not have the Tamer 
Tamed in its full and "offensive" state, and can therefore not 
determine just what passages were complained of. Herbert's 
comments would indicate that the offense was chiefly profanity. 
There seems to be no foundation for the statement that the fault 
consisted in the attacks on the Puritans. Weber, in his edition 
of Beaumont and Fletcher, 2 asserts that the persons who com- 
plained were probably Puritans, and "the passages reprobated 
. . . were probably those levelled at the sect, which seems to 
have stood high in the favor of Sir Henry." This is highly un- 
likely. Certainly Herbert, chief fosterer of the stage and de- 
pendent upon it for his income, and in sentiment " more royalist 
than the King," would have been the last person to sympathize 
with the Puritans. And the year during which the Puritan 
Prynne, for his attack on the drama, was lying in prison, pre- 

1 See Herbert's full account of the affair in 1821 Variorum, III, 208-210. 
1 V, 254. 


paratory to his further punishment on the pillory, was an un- 
likely time for the exhibition of much consideration towards 
that sect. The passages in the Tamer Tamed to which Weber 
alludes l are rather mild and commonplace hits at the Puritan 
opposition to May-poles, morris-dances, and players. As for 
the scene in which, according to Weber, "Fletcher seems to 
have thrown the glove of defiance before these pious foes, by 
introducing the most disgusting obscenity," 2 I fear that the poet 
did not need the added inducement of this opposition to egg him 
on. Certainly the play is indecent enough, and some of its 
offenses in this respect may perhaps have shocked even Sir 
Henry Herbert. Apparently the Tamer Tamed did not suffer 
from this temporary cloud. About a month later it was acted 
at Court, and, Herbert tells us, "very well likt." 3 

In the same busy month — October, 1633 — two other 
troubles confronted the Master. The High Commission Court 
had apparently interfered in the case of Jonson's Magnetic 
Lady, on account of some offensive interpolations, mostly oaths, 
made by the actors. The players, in their first petition to the 
Court, laid the blame on the Master and on the author; but in 
their second petition "they did mcc right," notes Herbert, "in 
my care to purge their plays of all offense." Whereupon "my 
lords Grace of Canterbury bestowed many words upon mee, and 
discharged me of any blame, and layd the whole fault of their 
play called The Magnctick Lady, upon the players." 4 Offen- 
sive personalities, as well as oaths, the actors seem to have been 
making use of; for in this same October, the Master tells us, 
"Exception was taken by Mr. Scwster to the second part of 
The Citty Shuffler, which gave me occasion to stay the play, till 
the company had given him satisfaction; which was done the 
next day, and under his hand he did certifye mee that he was 
satisfyed." 5 It would seem that Mr. Sewster had been offen- 
sively satirized in this production. 

One bright spot cheered Herbert in this year of struggling 

1 Act II, Scene v; Act III, Scene ii. Weber's edition, 312, 330. 

2 Ibid., 330, note. 3 1S21 Variorum, III, 234. 

* Ibid., 233. And sec Fleay, English Drama, I, 385-386. 
1 1S21 Variorum, III, 172, note. 


against "oaths and ribaldry." In July, 1633, Shirley's Young 
Admiral aroused his warm approval, and caused him to enter 
in his Register this patronizing eulogy: — 

"The comedy called The Yonge Admirall, being free from oaths, 
prophancness, or obsceanes, hath given mee much delight and satis- 
faction in the readinge, and may serve for a patterne to other poetts, 
not only for the bettring of maners and language, but for the improve- 
ment of the quality, which hath received some brushings of late. 
When Mr. Sherley hath read this approbation, I know it will encour- 
age him to pursue this beneficial and cleanly way of poetry, and when 
other poetts heare and see his good success, I am confident they will 
imitate the original for their own credit, and make such copies in 
this harmless way, as shall speak them masters in their art, at the first 
sight, to all judicious spectators. It may be acted this 3 July, 1633. 
I have entered this allowance for direction to my successor, and for 
example to all poetts, that shall write after the date hereof." l 

Any one who would see Herbert's ideal of dramatic writing 
has therefore but to read the Young Admiral. It is indeed far 
more "cleanly" than many dramas of the period, but various 
passages in it give us added proof that Herbert's concern was 
more with the abhorred oaths than with modern notions of 

Herbert's reputation as a puritanical person, "pious" and 
"delicate," rests chiefly on the affair of D'Avenant's Wits. 
Though the inference usually drawn from his account of this 
seems to me hardly justified, the story does certainly reveal him 
in an amusingly pedantic light. The Master, it appears, had 
"reformed" this play so rigorously that the ire of the author was 
aroused. The exasperated D'Avenant secured the aid of En- 
dymion Porter, to whom he afterwards dedicated the comedy. 
At the intercession of this gentleman, the King himself consented 
to intervene, and actually went over the play-book with Herbert, 
to moderate his censorial zeal, and restore some of the expur- 
gated words. The Master's record of the affair shows a comical 

1 1S21 Variorum, III, 232. At this period Shirley seems to have been in close 
and friendly relations with the Master and even with the King. In this same year 
Charles suggested to the dramatist, through Herbert, the plot for his Gamester, — 
which his Majesty afterwards naturally thought "the best play he had seen for 
seven years." See ibid., 236. 


mixture of his respect for the royal judgment and his obstinate 
persistence in his own views. "The king is pleased to take 
faith, death, 'slight for asseverations and no oaths, to which I 
do humbly submit as my master's judgment; but under favour 
conceive them to be oaths, and enter them here to declare my 
opinion and submission." King Charles' tactful consideration 
for the feelings of his Master of the Revels is apparent from the 
latter's statement that "the kinge would not take the booke at 
Mr. Porters hands; but commanded him to bring it to mee, 
which he did, and likewise commanded Davenant to come to 
me for it, as I believe; othenvise he would not have byn so 
civill." 1 The tone of the Wits is, to the modern taste, consist- 
ently indecent throughout, and one situation is, as Mr. Ward 
puts it, "of a breadth which would have suited the most frolic 
pages of Boccaccio"; but these things naturally did not con- 
cern Herbert, intent on his search for profanity. 

The Master's condemnation of oaths extended over printed 
plays as well as stage presentations. It is worth while to glance 
at his activity in this line during these years. Since the passage 
of the statute of 1606 such expurgation had been attended to 
with more or less rigor. Later editions of plays originally printed 
before the statute, frequently show reformations of this sort. 
The Jonson Folio of 1616, for example, exhibits such substitu- 
tions as "Believe me" for "By Jesu." Later reissues of plays 
often show still more rigorous emendations. Herbert's energy 
in eliminating oaths seems, during part of his administration 
at least, to have been applied vigorously to the press. Inter- 
esting examples of his very fussy alterations in this line may 
,be seen in the fourth quarto of Philaster, 2 published in 1634, 
1 the same year in which the Master tried to be so severe with the 
profanity in D'Avenant's Wits. In Philaster, too, "Faith" 
is cut out, or changed to such words as "Marry" or "Indeed." 
"By Heaven" is altered to " By these hilts." Even the heathen 
gods were not to be invoked without caution. "By the gods" 
is frequently displaced by "And I vow/' "By my sword," "By 

1 1S21 Variorum, III, 235. 

J The first edition of Philaster, in 1620, was not licensed by the Revels Office. 
(Arber, Transcript, III, 662.) 


my life," " By all that's good." Instead of "By the just gods," 
the poet is allowed to asseverate " By Nemesis." * If the Revels 
Office attended thus minutely to the new editions of many plays, 
the Master and his Deputy must indeed have been kept busy. 

To return to cases of dramatic performance, — the Queen's 
company seems to have been in trouble in 1637. The Prologue 
of Brome's English Moor, produced by them in that year, in- 
forms us that the actors had been "restrained" for a time, but 
does not tell us the cause of their punishment. The players 
promise, in the Prologue, that they will submit to the "high 
powers," and will "utter nothing may be understood offensive 
to the state, manners or time." 2 We know nothing further 
about the case. Presumably the company had presented some 
play containing indiscreet allusions to affairs of state. 

A case of a different sort arose in June, 1638. There had 
been some difficulty about the licensing of Massinger's King 
and Subject, which had been finally laid before the King himself 
for his opinion. After expurgating some apparently seditious 
lines, Charles bade the Master allow the play. Herbert's account 
of the matter is amusingly characteristic. 

"At Greenwich the 4 of June, Mr. W. Murray gave mee power 
from the king to allowe of the play, and tould me that he would 
warrant it. 

"'Monys? Wee'le rayse supplies what ways we please, 
And force you to subscribe to blanks, in which 
We'le mulct you as wee shall thinke fitt. The Caesars 
In Rome were wise, acknowledginge no lawes 
But what their swords did ratifye, the wives 
And daughters of the senators bowinge to 
Their wills, as deities,' &c. 

This is a peece taken out of Philip Messinger's play called The King 
and the Subject, and entered here for ever to bee remembered by 
my son and those that cast their eyes on it, in honour of Kinge Charles, 

1 All such alterations are registered in the foot-notes in the Variorum Edition 
of Beaumont and Fletcher, I. A multitude of such examples could doubtless be 
collected from the books of the time. 

2 Brome, Works, II, 1. 



my master, who, readinge over the play at Newmarket, set his marke 
upon the place with his owne hande, and in thes words: 

"'This is too insolent, and to bee changed.' 

"Note, that the poett makes it the speech of a king, Don Pedro 
king of Spayne, and spoken to his subjects." ' 

Certainly the passage on the raising of supplies was indiscreet, 
in view of the bitter trouble between King and Parliament. 
It is striking to find that it is by the same hand which probably 
penned the one notable protest against despotic government 
which we have encountered, — the closing speech of Barnevelt 
at his trial. 2 

The care still taken to suppress any disrespect shown to re- 
ligion is illustrated in the following year, 1639, when, according 
to a letter, the players of the Fortune were fined a thousand 
pounds — one may doubt the sum — for setting up on the stage 
an altar, a basin, and two candlesticks, and bowing down to 
them. The actors alleged that it was an old play revived, and 
the altar merely one to the heathen gods; but the authorities 
decided that the performance was in contempt of the ceremonies 
of the church. 3 

In the same year the Aldermen of London and the profession 
of proctors were also in need of protection against the stage. 
A complaint was made in September, we learn, to the King in 
Council, "that the stage-players of the Red Bull have lately, 
for many days together, acted a scandalous and libellous play, 
wherein they have audaciously reproached, and in a libellous 
manner traduced and personated, not only some of the Al- 
dermen of the City of London and other persons of quality, but 
also scandalized and defamed the whole profession of Proc- 
tors belonging to the Court of Probate, and reflected upon the 
present Government." The Council ordered that the Attorney- 
General should call before him "not only the poet who made 
the said play, and the actors that played the same, but also the 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 240. Herbert tells us that the name of the play was 
changed. It does not seem to have survived. 

2 See above, p. 117. 3 State Papers, Dom., 1639, 140-141. 


person who licensed it"; and that, having ascertained the truth 
of the complaint, he should proceed "roundly" and expedi- 
tiously against the offenders, in order, that their "exemplary 
punishment may prevent such insolence betimes." ' The name 
of this production was the Whore New Vamped. Another 
document informs us of its objectionable passages: the 
dubbing of all proctors "arrant knaves," and the even more 
shocking assertion, "The alderman is a base, drunken sottish 
knave, I care not for the alderman; I say the alderman is a 
base, drunken, sottish knave !" 2 

As the storm of the Civil War draws near, it is most fitting 
that the last important case we have to chronicle should be one \ 
of disrespect to the King and defiance of the authority of his ^ 
servant, the Master of the Revels. The offenders were William 
Beeston's company at the Cockpit theater, sometimes known as 
the "King's and Queen's young company." We learn of the 
affair from Herbert's Register and from the following order 
issued by the Lord Chamberlain on May 3, 1640. 

"Whereas Wm. Bieston and the company of players of the Cock- 
pit in Drury Lane have lately acted a new play without any license 
from the Master of his Majesty's Revells, and being commanded to 
forbear playing or acting of the same play by the said Master of the 
Revells, and commanded likewise to forbear all manner of playing, 
have notwithstanding in contempt of the authority of the said Master 
of the Revells and the power granted unto him under the great seal 
of England, acted the said play and others to the prejudice of his 
Majesty's service and in contempt of the office of the Revells, whereby 
he, they, and all other companies ever have been and ought to be 
governed and regulated: These are therefore in his Majesty's name 
and signification of his royal pleasure to command the said Wm. 
Bieston and the rest of that company of the Cockpit players, from 
henceforth and upon sight hereof to forbear to act any plays what- 
soever until they shall be restored by the said Master of the Revells 
unto their former liberty." 3 

Herbert informs us that on the following day Beeston was 
committed to the Marshalsea, and that for three days the com- 

1 Stale Papers, Dom., 1639, 529. 

2 Ibid., 530-531; Chalmers, Apology, 504-505, note. 

3 Chalmers, Apology, 517, note. 


pany "laye still." But on the fourth, "at my Lord Chamber- 
len's entreaty," and "upon their petition of submission sub- 
scribed by the players," Herbert restored to them their liberty 
of playing. "The play I cald for," he notes, "and, forbiddinge 
the playinge of it, keepe the booke, because it had relation to the 
passages of the K.'s journey into the Xorthe, and was complaynd 
of by his M. tye to mee, with commande to punishe the offenders." x 
As a result of this trouble, Beeston was removed from the manage- 
ment of the "King's and Queen's young company," and D'Ave- 
nant appointed by the Lord Chamberlain to take charge of it. 2 
The reckless insubordination of a royal company on this occa- 
sion is hard to understand. Their reflections upon the "King's 
journey into the North," cannot, however, have been danger- 
ously disrespectful, or they would have been more severely 

The catastrophe now approached to which the loyal Master 
of the Revels in after years referred as "the Late Horrid Re- 
bellion, when sir Henry Herbert owned not their uniust and 
Tyranicall Authority." 3 His task was over, and in the Office 
Book which had chronicled so many famous dramas he made his 
last entry, — " Here ended my allowance of plaies, for the war 
began in August, 1642." 4 

That industrious and practical playwright, Thomas Hey- 
wood, evidently understood very well the nature of the censorship 
which we have been following. In his Apology for Actors, 
written in 161 2, he thus sums up the errors against which the 
dramatists must be especially on their guard. " Now, to speakc 
of some abuse lately crept into the quality, as an inveighing 
against the state, the court, the law, the citty, and their governe- 
ments, with the particularizing of private men's humors (yet 
alive), noble-men and others : I know it distastes many; neither 
do I in any way approve it, nor dare I by any meanes excuse it." 5 
Other dramatists, also, show evidences of guarding against 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 241. 

3 See the warrant appointing D'Avenant, printed in Chalmers, Apology, 519, 

3 Halliwell-Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 33. * 1S21 Variorum, III, 242. 

1 Printed in the Shakspere Society Publications, III, 61. 


such accusations as these. The prologues and epilogues of the 
period contain many protestations that the author is not in- 
veighing against the state or any other institution, and is not 
attacking or satirizing any individual persons. The poets even 
protest at times that they have avoided indecency and immoral- 
ity. Fear of the presence of spies who might misinterpret 
their lines and involve playwright and players in trouble with 
the authorities also seems to disturb them occasionally. The 
most striking and amusing expression of these ideas is in the 
Induction of Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, which ridicules such 
interpretations of a play as the City had made in the case of 
the Hog hath Lost his Pearl in the preceding year, 1 and satirizes 
the official condemnation of profanity. "It is agreed by the 
aforesaid hearers and spectators, That they neither in them- 
selves conceal, nor suffer by them to be concealed, any state- 
decypherer, or politic picklock of the scene, so solemnly ridicu- 
lous as to search out who was meant by the gingerbread -woman, 
who by the hobby-horse man, who by the costardmonger, nay, 
who by their wares. Or that will pretend to affirm on his own 
inspired ignorance, what Mirror of Magistrates is meant by the 
justice, what great lady by the pig-woman, what concealed 
statesman by the seller of mousetraps, and so of the rest. But 
that such person, or persons, so found, be left discovered to the 
mercy of the author, as a forfeiture to the stage, and your 
laughter aforesaid. As also such as shall so desperately, or 
ambitiously play the fool by his place aforesaid, to challenge the 
author of scurrility, because the language somewhere savours 
of Smithfield, the booth, and the pigbroth, or of profaneness, 
because a madman cries, God quit you, or bless you." Other 
writers appear at times to take the matter more seriously, and 
to be really in fear of condemnation for sedition or slander. 2 

These were indeed the faults which brought down the wrath 
of the censor. On the whole there was, throughout the period, 
a fairly rigorous suppression of anything touching on current 

1 See above, p. 112. 

2 See, for example, the Preface to Marston's Malcontent, the Prologues to 
Beaumont's Woman-Hater and Knight of the Burning Pestle, and the Prologue 
to Taylor's Hog hath Lost his Pearl. 


political and religious questions, and a frequent effort to sup- 
press offensive personalities. The nature of the whole Eliza- 
bethan drama is sufficient evidence that the censor was not 
concerned with decency and morality in our modern sense. It 
would, of course, be absurd to expect him to have been. In 
summing up such a survey of the censorship, one should also be 
careful to bear in mind that it was probably enforced no more 
regularly and consistently than the laws which we have investi- 
gated in an earlier chapter. Doubtless many plays, especially 
before Herbert's day, went quite uncensored and unlicensed. 
And we ought never to be surprised if we find passages permitted 
which seem far more flagrant than some that brought clown 
rebuke upon players and poets. In Buc's expurgations of the 
Second Maiden's Tragedy, for example, we saw rather rigorous 
suppression of disrespectful allusions to the wicked Tyrant. 
But the drama of the period abounds in apparently unrepressed 
portrayals of weak and vicious kings who meet avenging death, 
and of intriguing and pernicious favorites. The Maid's Tragedy, 
supposed to have seemed offensive to Charles II in later years, 
apparently aroused no protest in the early Stuart period. Such 
examples as these show the real freedom allowed in many cases 
to the dramatists of this time. 

The punishment of erring actors was on the whole extremely 
lenient. We have encountered scarcely a case of real severity. 
When we consider the customs of the time, and compare the 
dire penalties meted out to some offending Puritans — John 
Stubbes' loss of his right hand, Prynne's mutilation and suffer- 
ing in the pillory — it is evident how effectively the protection 
of their patrons and the favor of the Court sheltered the players 
and the playwrights. 

It is always dangerous to speculate on how things would have 
turned out if conditions had been quite different from what they 
were. But the problem of the effect of the censorship on the 
drama of the period is too interesting to avoid. What would the 
Elizabethan drama have been, had it been free from this super- 
vision? Not materially different, I imagine, from what it was. 
The dramatists would no doubt have been spared much annoy- 
ance, for it must have been peculiarly exasperating to them to 


have their verses spoiled by such "reformations" as we have / 
seen; but the general content and spirit of their plays would 
probably have been much the same. They would undoubtedly 
haw indulged in much more personal satire and scurrilous 
abuse of living individuals, — a loss to which we can easily 
reconcile ourselves, as we can to the expurgated oaths. They 
would doubtless have written more plays treating current poli- 
ties, and especially foreign relations and affairs. The great 
popular approval which greeted the Game at Chess, shows how 
eager the public was for representations of really vital events 
such as these; and the case of Massinger also indicates the 
willingness of some playwrights to deal with these themes. But 
even when the drama did touch politics, it was rather, especially 
under the Stuarts, the mere expression of the views of one fac- 
tion of the Court party, as in Massinger's case, than any dis- . 
cussion of the great political and religious questions which were .• 

stirring so profoundly the heart of the nation. This was not 
due to the censorship. Nearly all those seriously concerned 
for civil liberty and religious reform were comprised in the party 
loosely called Puritan, and to them the stage was anathema. 
Under no circumstances could it have served as a voice for their 
views and aspirations. The dramatists were the spokesmen 
of the party then dominant, — Court, Royalist, Cavalier, — 
almost completely out of touch and sympathy with the great 
movements which were so soon to triumph. 

The Elizabethan drama was, indeed, essentially non-con- 
troversial. It was chiefly romantic, concerned not with how 
things ought to be, but with how they might appear most splen- 
did, most thrilling, most effective. Or when it assumed a realis- 
tic attitude, it dealt rather with the analysis of human character, 
of the foibles of human nature, than with political and social 
problems. It is difficult to imagine Beaumont and Fletcher, for 
instance, using the stage as a weapon in religious or political 
controversy ; or, to take the most illustrious case of all, to think 
of Shakspere as having been restrained by the censorship from 
entering the controversial arena. Obviously in sympathy with 
the government and the customs prevailing in his time, the great 
poet seems to have looked with some contempt upon the popu- 


lace and their desire for civic rights. But on the whole such 
political questions interested him little, — and religion appar- 
ently scarcely at all. The persons with whom he associated, the 
audiences for whom he wrote, the patrons who assisted him, 
had no real concern with these ideas which were about to revolu- 
tionize the nation. Nor can we imagine him, dispassionate 
though sympathetic observer and portrayer of human nature as 
he was, — so dispassionate that we can scarcely guess his views 
on any of the great questions of society, — we cannot imagine 
such a man ever becoming under any circumstances the mere 
mouthpiece of a political or religious party, ever desiring to use 
his art for a controversial purpose. These things were not his 
concern. When the manuscripts of his plays were submitted 
to the Revels Office, the pen of Tilney or of Buc, we may feel 
sure, marred with no considerable "reformations" his unblotted 
lines ; nor would his dramas have been materially different from 
what they are, had there been no necessity of guarding against 
the condemnation of the censor. 


Local Regulations in London, i 543-1 592 

It is now necessary for us to retrace our steps chronologically, 
and to follow the history of conditions in London, of the orders 
and ordinances applying particularly to the stage in and about 
that city. Before one can clearly understand the course of these 
local regulations, and especially the disputes between the City 
and the royal government concerning plays, it is essential to 
consider briefly the constitution of the municipal government and 
the topographical limits of its jurisdiction. This is an interest- 
ing and complex subject, full of contradictions, anomalies, and 
uncertainties. Strange relics of medieval customs, precincts 
which were at the same time both within and not within the 
City, conflicts of jurisdiction, privileged persons, edicts which 
were never enforced, — all these make the situation hard to 
grasp. As late as 1675 there were disputes on the old and 
unsettled question as to whether the Lord Mayor and the Court 
of Aldermen had power to veto decisions and orders of the 
Common Council ; ' and a capital example of the uncertainty of 
the municipal jurisdiction is afforded by the fact that it seems 
never to have been decided whether the Temple is in the City or 
no. 2 Of course, no attempt at a complete elucidation of all 
such matters is necessary here ; we need only a brief statement 
of the general situation in the municipality under Elizabeth and 
the early Stuarts, so far as this affects our immediate subject 
and so far as it can be definitely ascertained. 

The city government, the powers and privileges of which 
had been granted and confirmed to the citizens by the charters 
of many kings, was carried on by a Lord Mayor, a Court of 

1 Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, II, 454. 
1 Loftie, History of London, I, 228. 


Aldermen, and a Common Council, together with Sheriffs and 
various minor officials. By a strange survival of medieval 
institutions, the election of these officers, and thus the practical 
control of the city government, was in the hands of the so-called 
"Livery Companies." These were the twelve great trading 
companies or medieval guilds, called "Livery" from the uniform 
in which their members of higher grade were privileged to array 
themselves. Their control of the corporation was exerted as 
follows : The Mayor and the Sheriffs were elected by the Com- 
mon Council, which included the masters and wardens of the 
guilds. 1 The Mayor was chosen annually from among the 
Aldermen, to serve for one year, beginning on October 2&. 2 
There were from each ward one Alderman, elected for life, and 
four Common Councilmen, chosen annually. 3 These Aldermen 
and Councilmen were voted for by the freemen in the various 
wards who were also householders and who paid the taxes known 
as "scot and lot." 4 This rank of freeman, or possession of 
the "freedom of the city," originally connected with the right to 
trade, could be obtained only through membership in one of the 
great trading companies. Thus the control of the municipal 
franchise was in the hands of the guilds, — a strange state of 
affairs which prevailed until 1835, and is not yet entirely abol- 
ished. 5 

In view of the strong opposition to plays shown by the city 
authorities, it is interesting to investigate the organization of 
these powerful guilds and the classes of society represented in 
their membership, in order to discover what portions of the 
community probably withheld from the drama their approval 
and patronage. In earlier times the guilds had to a considerable 
extent regulated each its own industry — by putting down 
adulteration, for instance — and had besides this exercised vari- 
ous religious and charitable functions. By the end of the six- 
teenth century, however, they had practically ceased to be of 

1 Merewether and Stephens, Boroughs and Municipal Corporations, III, 
1938 ff.; Stubbs, Constitutional History, III, 576. 

1 Stow, Survey, 196. 3 Stubbs, op. cit., Ill, 576. 

*Ibid.; Merewether and Stephens, op. cit., Ill, i486, 1986, 2046; Hazlitt, 
Livery Companies, 80; Besant, Stuart London, 119. 

* Hazlitt, Livery Companies, 80. 


any use for industrial purposes; and with the Reformation their 
religious function had also passed away. They continued to 
exercise hospitality and charity and, as. we have seen, to control 
indirectly the municipal government. 1 Their organization con- 
sisted of three parts : the ordinary members, or freemen ; the 
"Livery," or members of higher grade, privileged to wear the 
uniform of the company; and the "Court," or governing body. 
Membership might be gained in four ways: (i) by apprentice- 
ship; (2) by inheritance, whereby all sons and daughters 
of a freeman obtained the freedom; (3) by redemption or 
purchase, a means by which many non-residents became 
freemen; and (4) by gift, a method whereby honorary mem- 
bership was conferred on many kings, princes, noblemen, and 
prelates. 2 

The twelve Livery Companies, which had absorbed many 
smaller guilds, and dominated by recognized right over the 
thirty-six less important companies, were the Mercers, the 
Grocers, the Drapers, the Fishmongers, the Goldsmiths, 
the Skinners, the Merchant Taylors or Linen Armorers, the 
Haberdashers, the Salters, the Ironmongers, the Vintners, and 
the Cloth-workers. As indications of the classes of people 
represented, these names are somewhat misleading. Some of 
the companies, such as the Mercers and the Grocers, appear to 
have consisted, to a great extent, of merchants and wholesale 
dealers; others, such as the Fishmongers, of shopkeepers and 
their apprentices; some, like the Goldsmiths and the Cloth- 
workers, deriving their names from "arts and misteries," 
of master manufacturers and their artisans. But because of 
membership by inheritance and by purchase, and a system of 
apprenticeship which did not require any actual practice of a 
trade, the companies had consisted, from the earliest times, 
largely of non-craftsmen. Their organization was, moreover, 
usually aristocratic. Their governing bodies consisted generally 
of the principal capitalists and employers of labor, and of dis- 
tinguished citizens not connected with commerce or manufacture. 

1 Hazlitt, Livery Companies, 65. 

* Stubbs, Constitutional History, III, 576; Hazlitt, Livery Companies, 75; 
Besant, Stuart London, 9. 


There was practically always a property qualification for mem- 
bership in the "Livery." x 

On the whole, then, the municipal government was controlled, 
as one might expect, by the upper middle class, the well-to-do 
merchants and city capitalists; and it is evident that this re- 
spectable, prosperous, and conservative portion of society was, 
on the whole, hostile to the drama, and, to a considerable extent, 
withheld its patronage from the theaters throughout most of 
our period. 

The municipal government so constituted and controlled 
exercised jurisdiction over an irregular and somewhat uncertain 
territory. The question of the topographical limits of its author- 
ity is an important one for stage history, since it determined the 
location of the playhouses. In their efforts to escape from the 
hostility of the Lord Mayor, while keeping within reach of their 
city patrons, the players erected their theaters just outside his 
jurisdiction. This placed them in close proximity to the dis- 
reputable houses and other disorderly resorts which clustered 
just beyond the controlling hand of the city authorities, on the 
borders of Southwark, in Shoreditch, and elsewhere, — an un- 
fortunate association which must have affected the quality of 
the audience throughout most of the period. 

London in the reign of Elizabeth was a city of considerable 
size, wealth, and power. It included, according to the usual 
estimate, about a hundred thousand inhabitants within the city 
proper, north of the Thames; and there were about as many 
more scattered through the Borough of Southwark, across the 
river, the neighboring city of Westminster, and the adjoining 
suburbs. 2 On the north or Middlesex side of the Thames, the 
old city walls inclosed a space which bore in shape a rough 
resemblance to a strung bow, of which the string represents the 
southern line along the Thames, from the Tower on the east to 
Blackfriars on the west. 3 The wall on the land side, the bent 

1 Hazlitt, Livery Companies, 64-65, 75. 

2 Campbell, Tfie Puritan, I, 330; Stephenson, Shakespeare's London, 69. 

3 For the topography of London at this period the best maps are Agas', 
c. 1561-1576, published with notes by W. H. Overall; Norden's, 1593, published 
with notes by H. B. Wheatley in Furnivall's edition of Harrison's Description 


shaft of the bow, curved irregularly northward between these 
two points, passing Aldgate, not far north of the Tower, curving 
westward past Bishopsgate, Morcgate, and Cripplegate, and 
southward past Aldersgatc, Newgate, and Ludgatc to the pre- 
cinct of the Blackfriars by the Thames. We may gain some 
notion of the size of the city from Stow's statement that t he- 
circuit of this wall, on the land side, was "two English miles 
and more by 608 feet." ' The territory within this space was, 
of course, under the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor — with 
some exceptions to be noted later. The city jurisdiction had 
been extended also beyond the walls in various directions, to 
points where "bars" marked the limits of the municipality. 
Up to the bars on the east, outside Aldgate, lay "Portsoken 
Ward without the walls"; 2 north of Bishopsgate extended part 
of Bishopsgate Ward ; 3 and north of Cripplegate, part of 
Cripplegate Ward. 4 West of the wall lay the ward of "Farring- 
don Without," and here the limits of the City were marked by 
Gray's Inn Bars and Temple Bar. 5 

Over London Bridge, on the south or Surrey side of the 
Thames, lay the Borough of Southwark. This had been pos- 
sessed in part by the City of London under grants of Edward III 
and Edward IV. 6 By a charter of April 23, 1550, 7 Edward VI 
ceded to the City all royal liberties and franchises in that Bor- 
ough, and declared the inhabitants thereof subject to the city 
laws and jurisdiction. In this same year, 1550, the Lord Mayor 
marched through the Borough in solemn procession, taking formal 
possession. It was intended, no doubt, that Southwark should 
be incorporated for all municipal purposes with the City, as the 
ward of "Bridge Without." But this was never done. The 
inhabitants have never elected an Alderman nor sent representa- 
tives to the Common Council; they have refused to "take up 

of England; and Ryther's, 1604, reproduced in Lottie, History of London, 
I, 282. These, with Stow's Survey, first written in 1598, give a fairly good idea 
of the city. A convenient collection of maps may be found in Baker, Develop- 
ment of Shakespeare. 

1 Stow, Survey, 5. J Ibid., 46-47. 3 Ibid., 150. 

* Ibid., 109. 8 Ibid., 138-139. 

' Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, I, 443 ff.; Rendle, Old Southwark, 7 ff. 

7 Printed in Birch, Historical Charters of London, no ff. 


their freedom" and bear the burdens of citizenship. For some 
time an Alderman for this ward was appointed by the other 
Aldermen; but this practice was given up, and the status of 
Southwark remained uncertain until, in 1836, a Committee 
reported to the Common Council that the Borough had never 
formed part of the City of London, the charter of Edward VI 
notwithstanding. 1 

However, we may imagine that the Lord Mayor, with the 
charter of Edward VI to support him, would certainly have 
used his authority over Southwark had the theaters on the 
Surrey side been placed within that Borough. They were not ; 
they were situated outside the limits of the Borough, in the 
"Liberties." This word is the cause of some confusion to any 
one investigating the documents of the time. It is sometimes 
used to indicate the rights and privileges of a city or other divi- 
sion, and hence the geographical and governmental limits of 
that city. Thus a company of players is authorized to perform 
" within the liberties and freedoms of any of our Cities . . . and 
without the same." Or a "Liberty" may mean a locality or 
administrative division outside the Lord Mayor's jurisdiction, 
possessing, as an inheritance from feudal or ecclesiastical cus- 
toms, certain privileges or exemptions. Thus we read of "the 
Manor or Liberty of the Clink," "the Liberty of Holywell," 
etc. The "Liberties of London" may thus mean either those 
portions within the Mayor's jurisdiction, or those divisions lying 
outside his jurisdiction. "A Liberty," however, seems to refer 
always to one of the latter. With these facts in mind, one can 
generally tell from the context the meaning of the term. 

On the Surrey side of the Thames, as we have seen, just south 
of London Bridge, lay the Borough of Southwark. To the west 
of this, outside the Mayor's jurisdiction, though just across the 
narrow river from the heart of London, were two Liberties border- 
ing on the " Bankside" along the Thames. 2 First lay the Manor 

1 Sharpe, op. cit., I, 443. An interesting and more detailed account of this 
anomalous situation is given in Benham and Welch, Mediaeval London, 41-42. 

2 The best authority for this locality is Rendle, who gives Norden's map of 
r 593> with comments, and a smaller map, in his Old Southwark, xxii-xxiii 
and 200. See also Ordish, Early London Theatres; and Wheatley and Cun- 
ningham, London Past and Present, III, 29-30. 


or Liberty of the Clink (so called from the Clink prison), a manor 
of the Bishop of Winchester, under whose seigniorial protection 
disorderly houses nourished. Within this Liberty were three 
theaters, — the Globe, the Rose, and the Hope or Bear Garden. 
Adjoining this on the west was the Manor or Liberty of Paris 
Garden, where the Swan was situated. 1 West of Paris Garden 
lay Lambert Marsh. The parish of St. Saviour's, of which we 
often hear in connection with theatrical affairs, included much 
of the Borough of Southwark and the Liberties of the Clink and 
Paris Garden. 2 

Southwest of Southwark, beyond the open space of St. George's 
Fields, lay Newington. The boundaries of Southwark extended 
almost to the parish church of this town, 3 and just outside the 
borough limits was the Newington theater, 4 — also, of course, be- 
yond the Lord Mayor's jurisdiction. 

On the Middlesex side of the Thames, north of the wall, 
beyond the bars which marked the limits of BishopsgateWard, 
were several Liberties, especially the Liberty of Holywell, the 
precinct of the former priory of St. John the Baptist. Here, 
near Finsbury Field and Shoreditch, were the Theater and the 
Curtain. 5 Farther to the west, north of Cripplegate, near 
Golding Lane, and just outside the bars bounding the portion 
of Cripplegate Ward without the walls, was the Fortune 
theater, in the Liberty of Finsbury. 6 

These theaters "in the fields," on the Surrey and the Middle- 
sex sides of the Thames, were under the jurisdiction of the Jus- 
tices of the Peace for these counties, to whom the Privy Council 
sent its orders concerning the players and upon whom it relied 
for their enforcement. 

Most puzzling of all to the modern American mind are various 
Liberties which were scattered through the City proper, sur- 

1 Some confusion is caused by the fact that the term "Paris Garden" was 
sometimes used loosely to mean all this locality of the Bankside. 

1 Rendle, Old Southwark, no, 1 21-122. s Stow, Survey, 150. 

4 Concerning this theater see Ordish, Early London Theatres, 142 ff. 

s Stow, Survey, 158; Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, 

335 ff- 

•Stow, Survey, 109; contract for erection of the Fortune, Halliwell-Phil- 
lipps, Outlines, 462; Ilenslowe Papers, 50. 


rounded by the Lord Mayor's jurisdiction but exempt therefrom, 
holding special privileges from the Crown by reason of their 
being the precincts of dissolved monasteries, which in their 
day had, of course, been exempt from civic authority. 1 The 
most important of these districts, from the theatrical point of 
view, were Whitefriars, on the north bank of the Thames, just 
east of the Temple, the site of the Whitefriars and other later 
theaters; and especially Blackfriars, also bordering on the 
river, a little farther east, where Burbage had his famous private 
theater. The exemption of these districts within the City was 
naturally a thorn in the side of the municipal authorities. Shortly 
after the dissolution of Blackfriars monastery and its surrender 
to the Crown in 1538, the Lord Mayor endeavored to obtain 
from the King the abolition of the district's privileges; but 
Henry replied that he was as well able to maintain the liberties 
of the precinct as ever the friars were. 2 Other attempts to 
invade the Liberty were made by the municipal authorities. 
In 1574, for example, we find that the City of London had 
"pretended interest" in Blackfriars, and that the Privy Council 
commanded the Mayor "not to intermeddle to the impeachment 
of such liberties and franchises until further orders." 3 In 
1596, therefore, when Burbage established his Blackfriars 
playhouse, that precinct was outside the Lord Mayor's jurisdic- 
tion, and the inhabitants of the Liberty, when they wished the 
theater prohibited, appealed for protection to the Privy Council. 
Since the Liberties of Blackfriars and Whitefriars were appar- 
ently not under the jurisdiction of the Middlesex Justices of 
the Peace, who were expected to enforce order at the Holywell 
and Finsbury theaters, one is puzzled at first to decide under 
whose jurisdiction they actually were. Of course the authority 
of the Crown and of the Privy Council was supreme over them, 
after the precincts passed from the possession of the Church. 
But what officials were actually in charge, with a jurisdiction 

1 Some idea of the ecclesiastical foundations in London which later became 
Liberties may be obtained from a map of the City in the 13th century, in 
Loftie, History of London, I, 120. 

2 Wheatley and Cunningham, London Past and Present, I, 193-194; Stow, 
Survey, 127. 

3 Ads, VIII, 240, 257. 


corresponding to that of the Lord Mayor and the Justices of the 
Peace in the neighboring districts? An order issued by the 
Privy Council in 1597 seems to answer this question definitely 
enough. No officials whatsoever were in charge. Some dispute 
had arisen concerning payments for repairs in Blackfriars, and 
this was referred by the Privy Council, on January 26, 1597, to 
a commission consisting of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Huns- 
don and others, who were to report to the Lords their opinion on 
this question, and also, according to the Council order, "con- 
cerninge an other point in the peticion for the government of 
the said libertic of the Black and White Fryers, which being 
grown more populus than heretofore and without any certaine 
and knowen officer to keepe good orders there, needeth to be 
reformed in that bchalfe, and herein we shall be glad to have 
your Lordships advise and opinion." * 

There was, of course, a parish organization which served for 
some purposes of local government ; but in the time of dangerous 
disorders or other emergencies the situation of Blackfriars and 
Whitefriars was an awkward one. The Lords seem to have been 
in the habit of meeting the difficulty on such occasions by 
appointing, in each of the precincts, some prominent man of 
rank to take temporary charge. In June, 1592, when serious 
riots were feared on Midsummer Night, and the Privy Council 
desired to take stringent measures against disorder, they com- 
manded that an armed watch of householders should be organ- 
ized in and about London. 2 A list of the persons to whom these 
orders were sent may be found in the Council Register. It is 
an illuminating example of the divided jurisdiction exercised 
over the metropolitan district, and the complicated difficulty of 
getting such a general command enforced. Orders w r ere sent 
to the Lord Mavor of London ; to the Master of the Rolls 3 
and four other Justices of the Peace of the County of Middlesex, 
for Holborn, St. Giles in the Fields, Clerkenwell, and neighboring 
places ; to three Justices of the Peace of the County of Surrey, 
for the precincts of Newington, Kentish Street, Barmondsey 
Street, the Clink, Paris Garden, and the Bankside ; to the Lieu- 

1 Acts, XXVI, 448-449- 2 See below, pp. 179 fT. s See above, p. 54- 



tenant of the Tower and the Master of St. Catherine's for the 
precincts of St. Catherine's and East Smithfield; to Lord 
Wentworth for Ratcliffe, Shoreditch, and Whitechapel ; to Lord 
Cobham for the Blackfriars; to Sir Thomas Shirley for the 
Whitefriars ; and to the Bailiff of Westminster for Westminster, 
St. Martin's, and the Strand. 1 It will be noticed that Lord 
Cobham was called on to organize the watch and preserve order 
in Blackfriars. His residence was in that precinct, 2 and he was 
a nobleman of distinction, — Lord Warden of the Cinq Ports, 
Lord Lieutenant of Kent, a member of the Privy Council, and 
later Lord Chamberlain. He seems therefore to have been 
chosen for this duty as the most prominent and powerful resi- 
dent of the Liberty. The duty in Whitefriars was similarly 
assigned to Sir Thomas Shirley, then Treasurer at War for the 
Low Countries. 

In spite of the investigation intrusted to the commission in 
January, 1597, no action seems to have been taken. Black- 
friars and Whitefriars apparently remained in the same uncer- 
tain jurisdiction until after James' accession; though we find 
that in March, 1599, in the case of certain taxes the Lord Mayor 
was intrusted with the assessment of Blackfriars. 3 

But in 1608 a decisive step was finally taken to remedy this 
anomalous state of affairs ; and the two famous Liberties came 
at last under the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor. On Sep- 
tember 20 of that year James granted a new charter to the City 
of London, confirming all former charters and customs and ex- 
tending the city liberties through various districts, including 
"the several circuits, bounds, limits, franchises and jurisdic- 
tions of . . . the late dissolved house or priory of Preaching 
Friars within and at Ludgate, London, commonly called Black- 
friars ; and also the late dissolved house or priory of Friars of the 
Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, called 
Whitefriars." These places shall be for all time to come " within 
the circuits, precincts, liberties, franchises and jurisdictions of 
the same our City of London. . . . And all and singular the 

1 Acts, XXII, 549, 5S i. 

2 See the deed quoted in Fleay, London Stage, 153. 
s Acts, XXX, 149-150. 


inhabitants and dwellers within the same, or any of them, shall 
be, and every of them is and for all time to come shall be and 
remain under the rule, government, jurisdiction, oversight, 
search, correction, punishment, precepts and arrests of the said 
Mayor and commonaltv and citizens . . . and the Sheriffs of 
London . . . any liberties, franchises, privileges, exemption or 
authority whatsoever to the contrary thereof notwithstanding." 
It is provided, however, that the inhabitants of Black friars and 
Whitefriars (though not those of the other districts concerned) 
shall be exempt from certain taxes and from holding certain 
offices. 1 

Some privileges of sanctuary also remained to portions of 
these districts. Before the breaking up of the monasteries, the 
priories of the Black and the White Friars had possessed these 
rights of sanctuary. Such privileges were, however, restricted 
by laws of Henry VIII to minor offenders, and not available for 
murderers, thieves, and like criminals. 2 After the dissolution 
of the monasteries the privileges clung irregularly to portions 
of the two precincts. Blackfriars became a respectable and in 
part aristocratic quarter, inhabited largely by Puritans, many of 
them feather-makers, and by noblemen. It therefore seems to 
have taken little if any advantage of the sanctuary privileges. 
But Whitefriars was a notoriously disreputable district, and the 
criminal classes who flocked there claimed all the privileges 
allowed by law and far more. Though the exemptions seem to 
have extended legally only to cases of debt, other refugees from 
justice fled thither, and Whitefriars, or "Alsatia," as it was 
called, became the resort of the outcasts of society, — a 
communitv so lawless that even the warrant of the Chief Justice 
of England could not be executed there without the help of a 
company of musketeers. 3 By the Statute 21 James I, cap. 28 
(1623-1624), all rights of sanctuary in England were abol- 
ished absolutely. But Whitefriars continued to claim them in 

1 Charter of James I, September 20, 1608. Printed in Birch, Historical 
Charters of London, 139 ff. 

1 Stephen, Criminal Law 0/ England, I, 491. 

* See Whcatleyand Cunningham, London Past and Present, I, 41-42; III, 503. 
"Alsatia" is best known from Scott's Fortunes 0/ Nigel, but was treated earlier 
by Shad well in The Squire 0/ Alsatia. 


defiance of the law, and, as the Sheriffs were afraid to enforce 
writs in the precinct, was long successful in maintaining some 
of its exemptions. The Statute 8 and 9 William III, cap. 27 
(1697), shows the strange state of affairs which was still sur- 
viving, by making it penal in Sheriffs not to execute process 
in certain "pretended privileged places" such as Whitefriars 
and the Savoy. 1 

Theoretically and legally it would seem that these fragmentary 
and anomalous privileges of sanctuary could have had no effect 
on the Lord Mayor's jurisdiction over the theaters in the pre- 
cincts of Blackfriars and Whitefriars. After 1608 his authority 
certainly extended over these districts. 2 In the peaceable pre- 
cinct of Blackfriars, it does not seem to have been questioned ; 
but the lawless community of Whitefriars no doubt made diffi- 
cult the enforcement of any sort of municipal order. 

I have treated the status of these two Liberties thus elabo- 
rately because disregard of the change made by the charter of 
1608 has slightly confused some histories of the stage. As we 
shall see, the Lord Mayor endeavored later to exercise his author- 
ity over Blackfriars against Burbage's theater; but not until a 
date when royal authority was paramount, and the players had 
little to fear from the hostility of the municipality. 

In spite of the charters granted to the City, the right of the 
royal government to interfere in this district over which the 
Lord Mayor ruled was apparently limited only by motives of 
expediency. It has generally been underrated by historians of 
the stage. We must remember that the authority of the Crown, 
under the Tudor and Stuart despotism, was considered para- 
mount. Royal patents, as we have seen, were given a power 
superior even to the statutes, and were expressly granted "any 
act, statute, proclamation or commandment to the contrary 
notwithstanding." During the period, moreover, as we have 
observed in the case of the laws regulating the status of players 
and the censorship, there was a steady centralization of power, 

1 Stephen, Criminal Law of England, I, 491-492. The Savoy was another 
Liberty to the west of the City. 

2 See the recognition of this in the case of Blackfriars by the Lord Chief Justice 
in 1615, mentioned below, pp. 199-200. 


a removal of administration from the hands of local officials to 
the royal government. This course of policy is evident in the 
dealings of the Crown with the Corporation of London in con- 
nection with theatrical affairs. Its interference became bolder 
and more arbitrary, passing from requests to commands. 

But there were some limits to such coercion of the municipal- 
it v. The powerful and wealthy Corporation of London was 
too important to be utterly antagonized. Before Elizabeth's 
day the capital had been the determining factor in the making 
and unmaking of kings ; and even when the great Queen feared 
no such extremity, she was in frequent need of the money and 
men which the loyal metropolis could supply. Hence, during 
most of her reign, the tone of royal despotism was softened at 
times; and the City, conscious of its power and its rights, 
occasionally assumed a bold attitude in asserting its privileges. 
But as the years passed and the Stuarts reigned, its manner grew 
more subservient. However much the Puritan spirit was in- 
creasing within, outwardly and officially the municipality as a 
rule submitted respectfully to the royal will. Such, at all events, 
is the course seen in dramatic affairs. 

The long conflict concerning the admission of plays into 
London, which is the most interesting feature in the history of 
local stage regulation, arose from the essentially differing atti- 
tudes held by the Crown and the Privy Council, on the one hand, 
and the city government, on the other, towards the performance 
of plays in London. The Privy Council, representing, of course, 
the views of the Queen, held the traditional English attitude 
toward the stage, — that plays are not in themselves evil, but, 
on the contrary, entirely justifiable, — "for honest recreation 
sake," as the Lords once put it. The Queen, as is well known, 
w r ent even further than this in her extreme fondness for dramatic 
performances, and many of the Councillors were also warm 
friends of the drama and patrons of companies. The position 
of the royal government was therefore on the whole one of 
generous and sympathetic patronage of the stage. The chief 
reason advanced by the Privy Council for the admission of the 
players into London — a reason reiterated on all occasions and 
respectfully received by the City — was that the actors must 


have practice in order to perfect themselves for their perform- 
ances before the Queen. This was the root of all the difficulty, 
and the ground of the granting to the favored players of those 
special and exclusive privileges which developed into the mo- 
nopolistic system of patented companies. 

Under certain circumstances, of course, the Privy Council 
believed that no plays should be allowed in and about London ; 
and they frequently ordered their suppression : — in times of 
plague or danger of plague; because of the representation of 
unfit matters, seditious or personal, upon the stage; because 
of disorders at the theaters, or, when riots were expected, fear 
that such assemblages might foment disorder. They sometimes 
restricted the number of performances, because frequent rep- 
resentations led people to wasteful and riotous living. They 
forbade them on Sunday, in Lent, and sometimes on Thursday, 
because on that day they interfered with the Queen's bear baiters. 
But under proper restrictions they saw nothing wrong in them. 

The city authorities agreed with the Lords in desiring plays 
stopped for these reasons. They too, and even more acutely, 
feared the danger of infection. They dreaded, much more deeply, 
the disorder growing from such assemblages of the baser elements 
of the population. Far more important, — they feared the effect 
of the drama upon the morals of the people. Not only did plays 
lead the citizens to wasteful expenditure, and interfere with 
their industry, but, to the minds of the London authorities, 
they corrupted the morals of the city and led astray its youth. 
Finally, apart from all matters of expediency, in the opinion of 
many of the municipal officials and citizens, all plays were essen- 
tially sinful and irreligious, — an abomination in the sight of God. 
This was the new, the Puritan attitude. Though no doubt 
many of the London officials opposed the stage on the other 
grounds, independent of any Puritan principles, it was this deep 
religious conviction on the part of most of the city which made 
the opposition of the municipal government to plays especially 
bitter. The Lord Mayor felt himself the guardian of the moral 
and spiritual welfare of the citizens. Roger Ascham, in his 
Scholemaster, written shortly before his death in 1568, recog- 
nizes in an interesting passage this moral zeal in the chief officer 


of the municipality. "Yea, the Lord Maior of London, being 
but a Ciuill officer, is commonlie, for his tyme, more diligent in 
punishing sinne, the bent enemie against God and good order, 
than all the bloodie Inquisitors in Italie be in seaven yeare." l 

These were the attitudes held, in general, by the Crown and 
the City during the controversy of the last quarter or more of 
the sixteenth century. But we must not expect to find them pre- 
served with entire consistency. A new Lord Mayor was elected 
each year ; the Lords upon the Privy Council frequently changed ; 
and as different individuals and different influences came into 
play, the policy of the authorities varied. Sometimes the Privy 
Council seems strongly opposed to plays; sometimes the City 
seems lax in suppressing them. 

Though the real controversy does not begin until about 1573, 
some facts have come down to us which show that thirty years 
before this the Lord Mayor was already appealing to the Privy 
Council against actors. On March 31, 1543, he complained to 
the Lords of the "licentious manner of players." 2 A few days 
later, on April 10, two companies, we learn from the Council 
Register, had to be suppressed. One, a nobleman's company, — 
four players "belonging to my Lord Warden," — "for playing 
contrary to an order taken by the Mayor on that behalf, were 
committed to the Countours." 3 On the same day a craftsman 
company was in trouble. " Certain joyners to the number of xx 
having made a disguising upon the Sonday morning without 
respect either of the day or the order which was known openly 
the Kings Highness intended to take for the repressing of plays, 
were therefore committed to warde." 4 Most of the joiners, 
"after a good lesson," were restored to liberty four days later; 5 
but three of them, who had been committed to the Tower, were 
not released until more than two weeks had passed. 6 Just why 
the Council punished these players is not entirely clear. Prob- 
ably the Mayor's complaint of March 31 had resulted in some 
royal order against plays, and it was for breach of this that the 
actors were imprisoned. But the reference to their lack of re- 

1 Arber's edition, 84. * Acts, I, 103-104. * Ibid., 109. 

*Ibid. ' Ibid., no. 9 Ibid., 122. 


spect for Sunday seems to show that there was already some 
feeling against performances of certain sorts on that day. 

In an earlier chapter we have considered the most significant 
points in the regulation of the London drama during the reigns of 
Edward VI and Mary : the suppression of occasional seditious 
plays, and the delegation of censoring power to the Bishop of Lon- 
don. 1 Elizabeth's proclamation of May 16, 1559, as we have seen, 2 
gave to the municipal authorities the power to censor and license 
plays in cities ; and under such a system London lived for some 
years. The great importance and power of the London Corpo- 
ration enabled it to take towards traveling companies a firmer atti- 
tude than was possible for the smaller towns of England. But the 
prescriptive right to play possessed by a properly authorized com- 
pany seems to have had some effect even at the capital. The 
municipal authorities were sometimes chary of refusing a noble- 
man's request that his company be allowed to perform within 
the City. The royal authorization they rarely dared to oppose. 

The first definite expression in London of the Puritan attitude 
towards the drama occurs in 1563, in the voice of Grindal, later 
Archbishop of Canterbury, but at this time Bishop of London, 
known for his Puritan leanings. In 1563 a great plague was 
raging in the city, and Grindal appealed to the Privy Council 
to stop all plays. The assemblages which they caused, he urged, 
were the most dangerous means of spreading the infection. More- 
over, the players, he said, were "an idle sort of people, which hact 
been infamous ihliTl good commonweliTfhV'; and""" God's woid— 
was profaned by their impure mouths, and turned into scoffs." 
He therefore ad v ised "That a proclamatrorrbe issued inhibiting 
• all plays within the City~or three miles thereof for the space^of a 
year — "and if it vveie fur_ eyer, it were not amiss." " What 
actiorrthe government took as a result of this appeal does not 
appear. In 1572, however, we have record that "plays were 
banished for a time out of London, lest the resort unto them should 
engender a plague, or rather disperse it, being already begonne." 4 

'See above, pp. 8 ff. 2 p. 14. s Strype, Life of Grindal, 121-122. 

* Extracts from MSS. of Harrison's Chronologic, in Harrison's Description 
of England, edited by Furnivall in the New Shakspere Society Publications, 
Pt. I, liv. 


The opposition to plays in the City had apparently by this time 
risen high, and the success of tins temporary prohibition of them 
perhaps encouraged the municipal authorities, who now began 
their long and bitter war against the London stage. The first 
campaign may be said to have lasted from 1573 to 1576, and to 
have resulted in the building of the regular theaters in the 

The first gun seems to have been fired in July, 1573, when the 
Privy Council apparently began its practice of securing special 
privileges within the City for favored performers. On July 14, 
we learn from the Council Register, the Lords requested the 
Mayor "to permit liberty to certain Italian players to make show 
of an instrument of strange motions within the City." ! But 
the municipal authorities were apparently already showing the 
comparative boldness and independence which characterized their 
attitude during all this first campaign. Five days later the Coun- 
cil had to write to the Lord Mayor again, reiterating their de- 
mand and "marveling that he did it not at their first request." 2 
The sequel does not appear, but one fears that the Mayor had to 

The demand for license to play in the inn-yards within the 
City was now so considerable, and the difficulty of securing such 
permission from the municipality so great, that it apparently 
occurred to some one to devise a sort of "licensing patent," 
something like those which we have already considered, 3 granting 
to the patentee the right to license playing places within the 
City. The privilege would probably have been a profitable one, 
as the Master of the Revels proved in later years. The scheme 
had evidently been suggested several times. We have our first 
definite knowledge of it, however, in March, 1574, when the Lord 
Chamberlain proposed to grant such a privilege to one Holmes. 
But before carrying out the plan, the Chamberlain, with due 
regard, in this instance, for the rights and feelings of the city 
authorities, requested their assent. Our knowledge of the affair 
is derived wholly from the letter in which the Mayor and the 
Corporation replied to this request. It is particularly interesting 

1 Acts, VIII, 131. 2 Ibid., 132. s See above, p. 45. 


as showing the bold and jealous guardianship of their liberties 
and privileges which the municipality dared at this time to assert 
against the encroachment of the royal officials. One should 
note, however, that the request had apparently not been made in 
the Queen's name, but solely by the authority of the Lord Cham- 

"Our dutie to your good L. humbly done. Whereas your Lord, 
hath made request in favour of one Holmes for our assent that he 
might have the appointment of places for playes and enterludes within 
this citie, it may please your L. to reteine undoubted assurance of our 
redinesse to gratifie, in any thing that we reasonably may, any per- 
sone whom your L. shall favor and recommend. Howbeit this case 
is such, and so nere touching the governance of this citie in one of 
the greatest matters thereof, namely the assemblies of multitudes of 
the Queenes people, and regard to be had to sundry inconveniences, 
whereof the peril is continually, upon everie occasion, to be foreseen 
by the rulers of this citie, that we cannot, with our duties, byside the 
precident farre extending to the hart of our liberties, well assent that 
the sayd apointement of places be committed to any private persone. 
For which, and other reasonable considerations, it hath long since 
pleased your good L. among the rest of her Majesties most honourable 
counsell, to rest satisfied with our not granting to such persone as, 
by their most honourable letters, was heretofore in like case com- 
mended to us. Byside that, if it might with reasonable convenience 
be granted, great offres have been, and be made for the same to the 
relefe of the poore in the hospitalles, which we hold as assured, that 
your L. will well allow that we prefer before the benefit of any private 
person. And so we commit your L. to the tuition of Almighty God. 
At London, this second of March, 1573." l 

The opposition to plays on the part of the city officials was 
now very decided, and the players evidently appealed against it 
to their patrons and to the Privy Council. On March 22, a few 
days after the letter just quoted, the Council wrote to the Lord 
Mayor, asking him "to advertise their Lordships what causes 
he hath to restrain plays, to thintent their Lordships may the 
better answer such as desire to have liberty for the same." 2 
The Mayor's presentation of the causes of restraint was appar- 

1 Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 23-24. Hazlitt, however, does not 
understand its significance, and gives it an inaccurate and misleading title. 

2 Acts, VIII, 215. 


cntly not entirely convincing to the royal government; or at all 
events one company, so fortunate as to have for its patron the 
Queen's favorite, and also to be able to give her Majesty "solace 
and pleasure" by its court performances, had powerful enough 
iniluence to override the opposition of the City. The Earl of 
Leicester's players obtained from the Crown, in May, 1574, less 
than two months after the Council's request for the Mayor's rea- 
sons, the patent under the Great Seal of England which I have 
already quoted. 1 This, according to the text of the Privy Seal 
directing the issue of the Great Seal, explicitly authorized per- 
formances "within our City of London," except in "time of com- 
mon prayer, or in the time of great and common plague in our 
said City of London," — any act, statute, proclamation, or com- 
mandment to the contrary notwithstanding. The copy of the 
instrument preserved among Rymer's unpublished papers, 2 
however, does not contain the important clause respecting per- 
formances in London; and it has been suggested that this was 
omitted from the Great Seal. 3 This theory seems improbable. 
Rymer's copy contains at the end the telltale "plague in our 
said City of London," showing that the previous clause had 
once been in. Why it was dropped out from this copy we cannot 
tell. But surely it is not likely that it was omitted from the patent 
actually issued, since the authorization to play within the City 
must have been the chief thing desired by the players and the 
chief point of the granting of the patent. That the authority 
of a patent under the Great Seal should be used to override the 
municipal government is not at all surprising, in view of what we 
have seen of such grants, some of which were issued expressly to 
supersede even Statutes of the Realm. 4 

It does not appear, however, that the Lord Mayor acquiesced 
promptly and completely in the newly authorized performances. 
He seems to have needed a further reminder. On July 22 fol- 
lowing the Privy Council wrote, requiring him to "admit the 

1 PP- 33~34- 2 Printed in 1821 Variorum, III, 47, note. 

3 See Collier, Introduction to Northbrooke's Treatise, Shakspere Society 
Publications, XIV, xiii. No justification is apparent for Collier's statement 
that the right granted by this clause was certainly never exercised. 

4 See above, p. 45. 


comedy players to play within the City of London, and to be 
otherwise favorably used," l — a request which probably refers 
to the recently patented company. But performances could not 
have continued long during this summer, for the plague in- 
creased and grew so virulent that on October 24 the Lords of 
the Council refused to go to the proposed feast of the new 
Lord Mayor, because of the danger of infection. They even 
suggested that the feast ought not to be given, but that the 
money intended therefor should be devoted to the poor. 2 One 
wonders whether they took any ironical pleasure in adminis- 
tering this pious reproof to the puritanical city government. 

In anticipation of the renewal of plays after the plague should 
cease, the City Council, on December 6, 1574, passed a long and 
interesting ordinance carefully and rigorously regulating dra- 
matic performances in London. 3 If they were to be forced to 
have plays in the City, they evidently determined that the produc- 
tions should be thoroughly supervised. Though the general 
tone of the phrasing of the act is decidedly Puritan, as is also 
its concern for decency and morality, it does not show the abso- 
lute condemnation of all plays as sinful which the extreme Puri- 
tans, and later the city officials themselves, vehemently urged. 
It even admits that there may be a "lawful, honest and comely 
use of plays." Its preamble gives us an interesting picture of 
some of the conditions surrounding the inn-yard performances 
of the period, and a summary of the chief arguments of the city 
fathers against plays. 

"Whereas heartofore sondrye greate disorders and inconvenyences 
have beene found to ensewe to this Cittie by the inordynate hauntynge 
of greate multitudes of people, speciallye youthe, to plaves, enterludes 
and shewes; namelye occasyon of frayes and quarrelles, eavell prac- 
tizes of incontinencye in greate Innes, havinge chambers and secrete 
places adjoyninge to their open stagies and gallyries, inveyglynge and 
alleurynge of maides, speciallye orphanes, and good cityzens children 
under age, to previe and unmete contractes, the publishinge of un- 
chaste, uncomelye, and unshamefaste speeches and doynges, with- 

1 Acts, VIII, 273. 2 Ibid., 303. 

3 Printed at length in Hazlitt, English Drama, 27-31; and in Collier, English 
Dramatic Poetry, I, 208-211, note. 


drawinge of the Qucnes Majesties subjectes from dyvyne service on 
Soundaiea & hollydayes, al which tymes such playes weare chefelye 

used, unthriftye waste of the moneye of the poore & fond persons, 
sondrye robberies by pyckinge and cuttinge of purses, utteringe of 
popular, busye and sedycious matters, and manic other corruptions 
of vouthe, and other enormyties; besydes that allso soundrye slaugh- 
ters and mayhemminges of the Quenes Subjectes have happened by 
ruines of Skaffoldes, Frames and Stagies, and by engynes, weapons 
and powder used in plaics. And whear in tyme of Goddes visitacion 
by the plaigue suche assemblies of the people in thronge and presse 
have benne verye daungerous for spreadinge of Infection." 

The act also cites the restraint of plays by the Privy Council 
in times of plague, and further states that the city officials fear lest 
" vppon Goddes mercyfull w th drawinge his hand of syckenes from 
vs (\v cU God graunte) the people, speciallye the meaner and moste 
vnrewlye sorte, should w th sodayne forgettinge of his visytacion, 
\v' h owte feare of goddes wrathe, and w th owte deowe respecte of 
the good and politique meanes, that he hathe ordeyned for the 
preservacion of commen weales and peoples in healthe and good 
order, retourne to the vndewe vse of suche enormyties, to the 
greate offence of God, the Queenes ma ties commaundements and 
good governance." 

In order that all these perils may be avoided, and " the lawfull, 
honest, and comelye vse of plaies, pastymes, and recreacions in 
good sorte onelye permitted, and good provision hadd for the 
saiftie and well orderynge of the people thear assemblydd," the 
Lord Mayor and "his bretheren th' aldermen, together w th the 
grave and discrete Citizens in the Comen Councell assemblyd," 
enact that "from henceforthe no playe, comodye, tragidie, en- 
terlude, nor publycke shewe shalbe openlye played or shewed 
\v u 'in the liberties of the Cittie, whearin shalbe vttered anie 
wourdes, examples, or doynges of anie vnchastitie, sedicion, nor 
suche lyke vnfytt, and vncomelye matter, vppon paine of im- 
prisonment by the space of xiiij ten daies of all persons offendinge 
in anie suche open playinge, or shewinges, and v 11 . for evrie suche 

The following explicit provisions for licensing are then laid 
down. No innkeeper or a ny other person shall _a l]pw any play 
to be given in his houseyard or other place unless\ (i) the play_ 


has been perused and allowed by the persons appointed for that 
purpose by the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen; (2) the players 
have been authorized by the Mayor and Aldermen ; (3) the place 
has been approved by them ; and (4) the house owner has given 
security for the keeping of good order. Moreover, no perform- 
ances whatsoever shall be given at any times — such as those of 
sickness — forbidden by the city authorities ; or during the hours 
of Divine Service upon Sundays and Holy Days; upon pain of 
a fine of £5 for every offense. I All duly licensed housekeepers 
shall contribute to the poor and the sick of the City; and all 
fines and forfeitures shall be devoted to the same purpose. Per- 
formances in private houses, at weddings or other festivities, 
where no money is collected from the audience, are exempted 
from the provisions of this act, except those "touchinge the 
publishinge of unchaste, sedycious and vnmete matters," — an 
offense which is under no circumstances to be tolerated. 

Though perhaps somewhat stringent, the regulations laid down 
by this act seem on the whole very sensible, showing a due regard 
for the safety and well-being of the citizens. But the law, as 
enforced, was apparently very irksome to the players. The 
expense of the required contributions to the poor, the fines, and 
the bonds, must have been considerable ; and the growing Puri- 
tan feeling among the citizens probably made the enforcement 
of the licensing regulations unduly restrictive and oppressive, 
and the suppression of performances too frequent to suit the taste 
of the actors. It was apparently these hardships which drove 
Burbage and others to seek refuge in the Liberties, beyond the 
reach of the city officials, and caused the erection, in 1576, of the 
first permanent playhouse, the Theater, where Leicester's com- 
pany performed, and almost immediately afterward of its neigh- 
bor, the Curtain. 

It has been customary for stage historians to attribute the 
building of these theaters in the Liberties to an undated order 
of the municipal government wholly prohibiting all plays in the 
City, which has generally been placed in the year 1575. 1 But, 
as Mr. Chambers has shown, 2 this date was carelessly and in- 

1 It is so dated by Collier, Fleay, and Ordish. 

2 Academy, August 24, 1895. 


accurately indorsed on the documents in Lansdowne MS. 20 
which relate to this edict and were apparently written soon after 
its issue. They refer to it as having been separated by a con- 
siderable interval of time from the city ordinance of December, 
1 574. Moreover, they themselves, as will be shown later, cannot 
have been written earlier than 1584, and they seem to have followed 
rather soon after this order of expulsion. In view of these facts 
it seems probable that the latter edict was not promulgated until 
some years after 1575. I have tentatively placed it in 1582, 
and shall consider it at that point in this narrative. 1 

Indeed, one would not expect, in the very next year, such a 
sudden change of policy and reversal of the careful ordinance of 
December, 1574; nor is the absolute prohibition of plays in the 
City necessary to explain the actors' resort to the Liberties. It 
is certain that, contrary to the impression given by some histo- 
rians, plays in the inn yards within London continued for many j 
years after 1575. This will appear as w r e follow the subsequent 
history of the controversy over the city stage. The theaters 
were not yet sufficient to accommodate all the companies per- 
forming ; nor were they desirable in the winter months, when the 
players still wished to act in the more accessible and convenient 
inn yards. 

During the years immediately following this first stage of the 
contest, the Puritan disapproval of the drama was finding ex- 
pression in violently denunciatory sermons and pamphlets, such , 
as Northbrooke's Treatise, in 1577, and Gossan* sSchoole of Abuse, ' «. 
in 1579. But the City seems to have made, for the present, no 
further definite move against the players, except, presumably, 
the more or less rigid enforcement of the regulation of 1574. 
The Privy Council, however, several times took action affecting 
the London stage. On August 1, 1577, they ordered the sup- 
pression of all plays in and about the City until Michaelmas — 
September 29 — because of the danger of infection in hot 
weather. 2 In the following January they again sought special 
privileges in London for certain players, requesting the Lord 
Mayor to permit Drousiano, the Italian comedian, and his com- 
pany, to play within the City. 3 In the next December (1578), 

'See below, pp. 163 ff. 2 Acts, IX, 388. 3 Ibid., X, 144. 


apparently after another outbreak of the plague, they ordered the 
resumption of performances in and about London, with proper 
precautions against infection; and wrote to the Lord Mayor, 
requiring him to "suffer the Children of her Majesty's Chapel, 
the servants of the Lord Chamberlain, of the Earl of Warwick, 
of the Earl of Leicester, of the Earl of Essex, and the Children 
of Paul's, and no company else, to exercise playing within the 
City." l These companies are to be allowed, the Lords state, 
because "they are appointed to play this Christmas before her 
Majesty." The granting of these exclusive privileges is an early 
example of the monopoly allowed favored players. But the large 
number of companies here named is in contrast to the practice 
of the later years of Elizabeth's reign. 

On March 13, 1579, we find the first explicit statement of a 
law against performances in Lent. The Privy Council on that 
day bade the Lord Mayor and the Justices of Middlesex — i.e. 
those with authority over the Theater and the Curtain — sup- 
press all plays during Lent and until after Easter week; and 
commanded also that this order should be observed thereafter 
yearly in the Lenten season. 2 

Urged on by the Puritan denunciations of the drama in general, 
and of the Theater and the Curtain in particular, as sinks of 
abomination and iniquity, the city authorities now resumed, more 
energetically, their war against plays. The second and the most 
bitter stage of this contest lasted from 1580 to 1584, — years filled 
with appeals, arguments, and orders from Common Council and 
Privy Council, resulting in temporary victory for the City, but 
ultimate defeat. 

Early in 1580 the campaign opened with an attack on the 
Theater. The Lord Mayor seems to have appealed to the Mid- 
dlesex Justices and brought about the indictment of John Braynes 
and James Burbage for causing unlawful assemblages of people 
at that playhouse, and thus provoking great affrays, assaults, 
tumults, and other breaches of the Queen's peace. 3 Probably 
this indictment followed a particularly great disorder which 

1 Acts, IX, 435, 436. 2 Ibid., XI, 73-74; and see below, pp. 210-21 1. 

3 See the indictment, quoted from the Middlesex County Records, in the 
Athenaum, February 12, 1887. 


occurred at the Theater on a Sunday in April of that year, and 
concerning which the Lord Mayor wrote to the Privy Council 
on April 12. 1 Though the playhouse was outside his jurisdic- 
tion, the Mayor, moved by the fact that ""those players do make 
assemblies of citizens and their families of whom I have charge," 
had started, he reported, to investigate the matter. He had 
consulted with the Under-Sheriff of Middlesex and had sum- 
moned some of the actors before him. Upon learning that the 
Privy Council had taken up the affair, however, he ceased to act. 
But he begged the Lords to consider "that the players of plays 
which are used at the Theater and other such places, and 
tumblers and such like, are a very superfluous sort of men and of 
such faculty as the laws have disallowed, and their exercise of 
those plays is not only a great hindrance to the service of God, 
who hath with His mighty hand so lately admonished us of our 
earnest repentance, 2 but also a great corruption of youth, with 
unchaste and wicked matters, the occasion of much incontinence, 
practices of many frays, quarrels and other disorders within the 
City." He therefore begged that order might be taken to pre- 
vent such plays, not only within the City, but also in the 
Liberties. 3 

It does not appear that the Theater was much troubled as a 
result of this agitation. Within a month after the Mayor's appeal, 
however, the opponents of plays had obtained an ally in the 
shape of the plague, which caused the Privy Council in May to 
forbid performances. 4 This order was apparently not rigorously 
enforced in the Liberties, for in June the Lord Mayor again 
appealed to the Lords, reporting the steps taken in the City to 
stop the spread of the disease, and requesting the aid of the Coun- 
cil "for the redress of such things as were found dangerous in 
spreading the infection and otherwise drawing God's wrath and 
plague upon the City, such as the erecting and frequenting of 
infamous houses out of the liberties and jurisdictions of the 

1 The indictment is for causing an unlawful assemblage on February 21 and 
other days before and after that date. It might have been drawn as late as 

' This apparently refers to the recent earthquake of April 6. 

s Remembrancia, 350; Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 348-349. 

* Acts, XII, 15. 



City, the drawing of the people from the service of God and 
honest exercises, to unchaste plays." 1 

Whether the Lords attempted to remedy these bitter grievances 
by more rigorous suppression of the theaters, we do not know. In 
the following summer the plague again caused the prohibition of 
performances. On July 10, 1581, the Privy Council commanded 
the Mayor and the Justices of the Peace, in order to prevent the 
spread of the disease, to permit no more plays until the end of 
September. 2 The general measures for the avoidance of infec- 
tion, apart from the closing of the playing places, the city authori- 
ties did not carry out to the satisfaction of the Privy Council. 
In September and again in October the Lords administered to 
the Mayor and the Aldermen a severe scolding for their negli- 
gence, and reproached them because the disease had spread so 
that the Queen had had to remove to a greater distance from 
London. 3 With these reproofs fresh in their minds it must have 
been exasperating to the city officials to receive in November 
a request for the allowance of what they considered the most 
dangerous cause of infection, — the assemblages at plays. The 
demand of the Privy Council on November 18, 1581, was couched 
in the usual terms. " As the sickness was almost ceased, and not 
likely to increase at this time of year, in order to relieve the poor 
players, and to encourage their being in readiness with convenient 
matters for her highness's solace this next Christmas," the Lords 
required the Mayor forthwith to "suffer the players to practise 
such plays, in such sort, and in the usual places, as they had been 
accustomed, having careful regard for the continuance of such 
quiet order as had been before observed." * The Mayor ap- 
parently did not accede promptly to this request, and because 
of his opposition the players petitioned the Privy Council for 
further aid. The Lords therefore wrote again on December 3, 
ordering the Mayor to permit the petitioning companies — who 
are not named — to perform in and about the City, as they had 
been accustomed to do, in order that they might support their 
families and because they were to perform before the Queen at 
Christmas. But, perhaps as a concession to the municipal 

1 Remembrancia, 330. ' Ibid., 331. 

3 Ibid.; Acts, XIII, 234. * Remembrancia, 350. 


authorities, the players are to be allowed to act only on week 
days, and never on the Sabbath, cither in the forenoon or in the 
afternoon. 1 

In this same December, 1581, the patent was issued which gave 
to the Master of the Revels such wide authority over the stage. 
Possibly some inkling of the trouble which his licensing power 
was to cause reached the city officials, and combined with their 
indignation at the abuses of the theaters to urge them to the 
extreme measure they seem to have taken about this time. This 
was the passage of the act totally prohibiting all plays within the 
City, which has generally been dated 1575, but which, as Mr. 
Chambers has pointed out and as I have stated above, 2 almost 
certainly belongs in these years of agitation between 1580 and 
1583, and perhaps early in 1582. The order of expulsion is re- 
ferred to in a letter from the municipal officials in 1584 3 as being 
contained in Article 62 of an Act of the Common Council for the 
Relief of the Poor. This is clearly identical with Article 62 of 
an undated pamphlet printed by Hugh Singleton and entitled 
"Orders appointed to be executed in the Cittie of London for 
setting roges and idle persons to worke, and for the releefe of the 
poore." 4 The municipal letter of 1584 states that this edict 
preceded the Paris Garden disaster, and it must therefore be of 
a date somewhat earlier than January 13, 1583. It was appar- 
ently as late as 1580, and probably a year or two after that; 
for the city officials speak of it as having been separated from the 
act of December, 1574, by a considerable period of time, during 
which the abuses of the stage grew flagrant, and there was much 
agitation and many denunciatory sermons. 5 Moreover, Raw- 
lidge's Monster Lately Found Out, published in 1628, in an ac- 
count of this controversy states that it was soon after 1580 that the 
citizens expelled the players and "quite pulled down and sup- 
pressed" the playhouses in the City. 6 During the years 1580- 
1582 the agitation against the stage was bitter and continuous, 

1 Acts, XIII, 269. Possibly this is the same letter as that just mentioned, 
dated November 18 in the city archives. 

: pp. 158-159. 3 See below, p. 172. 

4 Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 212; Chambers, in Acade my, August 24, 
1895. The order is sometimes relerred to as the "Singleton order." 

6 See below, pp. 172-173. ' Chambers, in Academy, August 24, 1895. 


and the edict would fit appropriately into almost any part of that 
period. The early spring of 1582 is perhaps the most probable 
date, for at that time the City was suffering from the plague, 
as the order implies, the Mayor was begging the Lords to continue 
the restraint of plays, as the last clause of the edict suggests, and 
all the other requirements seem to be met by this date. The order 
is characteristically Puritan in its phrasing and sentiment, more 
extreme than the ordinance of December, 1574. 

"For as much as the playing of enterludes, and the resort to the 
same, are very daungerous for the infection of the plague, wherby 
infinite burdens and losses to the Citty may increase, and are very 
hurtfull in corruption of youth with incontinence and lewdness, and 
also great wasting both of the time and thrift of many poore people, 
and great provoking of the wrath of God, the ground of all plagues, 
great withdrawing of the people from publique prayer, and from the 
service of God, and daily cried out against by the preachers of the word 
of God; therefore it is ordered, that all such enterludes in publique 
places, and the resort to the same, shall wholy be prohibited as un- 
godly, and humble sute made to the Lords, that lyke prohibition be 
in places neere unto the Cittie." l 

Whether or no this edict was actually promulgated in the 
spring of 1582, there was evidently some opposition to plays on 
the part of the City at this time; for the Privy Council again 
came to the aid of the actors. They wrote to the Mayor, re- 
questing him to allow performances in London, since the city 
was free from infection. As usual, they advanced as a reason 
the Queen's delight in plays and the necessity of the actors' 
having practice in order that they might the better gratify her 
Majesty. Perhaps somewhat impressed by the municipal argu- 
ments, they forbade plays not only on the Sabbath, but also on 
the ordinary Holy Days until after evening prayer ; and they sug- 
gested that the City should appoint a censor, in order that those 
dramas which contained "matter that might breed corruption 
of manners and conversation among the people" might be for- 
bidden. 2 Such a direct request from the Privy Council the Mayor 

1 From the text given by Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 211-212, quoting 
the Singleton pamphlet. 

7 Remcmbrattcia, 351; Ads, XIII, 404. The first gives the date as April n, 
the second as May 20. 


of course dared not refuse; but in his reply he again rehearsed 
the inconveniences and perils of theatrical performances, and 
begged that the Lords would continue their restraint of them. 
The suggestion as to a censor he gladly adopted. The plan of 
restraining plays on Holy Days until after evening prayer, how- 
ever, he respectfully condemned, since this would delay the action 
of the performances to a very inconvenient time of night, espe- 
cially for servants and children. 1 

Not only did the Mayor and the Aldermen have to submit 
to the interference of the Privy Council, but they had also to deal 
with the demands of individual noblemen that their servants might 
have the privilege of performing within the inn yards of the City. 
An example of this occurred in the following July, when the 
Earl of Warwick requested of the Mayor a license for his servant, 
John David, to play "his provost prize in his science and pro- 
fession of defence" at the Bull in Bishopsgate Street. 2 Appar- 
ently the Mayor was obdurate, for three weeks later the Earl 
again addressed him, expressing surprise at the prohibition of 
playing prizes by his servant, and desiring that more favor might 
be shown him. 3 To this the Mayor replied at some length, 
standing by his first prohibition, but endeavoring to pacify 
the offended nobleman by some concession. If the Earl's ser- 
vant will arrange to perform at the Theater or some other open 
place outside London, the Mayor will permit him, "with his 
company, drums, and show, to pass openly through the City, 
being not upon the Sunday, which is as much as I may justify 
in this season." 4 

In the following winter an accident occurred which vindicated 
some of the assertions of the city authorities concerning the dan- 
ger of assemblages at shows, and, by arousing feeling against 
theaters, temporarily gave the municipality great help in its 
warfare upon them. On Sunday, January 13, 1583, a scaffold 
fell during a performance at Paris Garden, killing some of the 
spectators and injuring many. The Mayor reported the affair 
to Lord Treasurer Burghley on January 18, attributing the 
disaster to the hand of God, on account of the abuse of the Sab- 

1 Remembrancia, 351. 2 Ibid.; Athencrum, January 23, 1869. 

3 Ibid. * Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 376. 


bath Day, and requesting Burghley to give order for the redress 
of such contempt of God's service. 1 The Lord Treasurer 
appears to have been moved by the Mayor's report. He replied 
that he would bring the matter before the Council, and get some 
general order passed prohibiting such exhibitions. In the mean- 
time he recommended the Lord Mayor, with the advice of the 
Aldermen, to issue a command to every ward for the prevention 
of such profane assemblies on the Sabbath Day. 2 Supported by 
this pronouncement of the Lord Treasurer, and justified further 
by another outbreak of the plague, the city authorities now seem 
to have proceeded to rigorous measures. It appears probable 
that in this spring of 1583 they actually suppressed, for a time, all 
the city inn yards used for performances. 3 They certainly took 
vigorous steps against them, as we shall presently see. 

Had it not been for the royal favor, the state of the players 
would now have been lamentable. But just at this time a step 
was taken which added considerably to their prestige and influ- 
ence. This was the formation of a company directly in the 
Queen's service, to be known as Her Majesty's Players. On 
March 10, 1583, Sir Francis Walsingham summoned Tilney 
to Court, to select these actors. 4 As a result, twelve of the 
best were chosen from the noblemen's companies, and, according 
to Howes' account, written about 1615, "were sworn the Queen's 
servants and were allowed wages and liveries as grooms of the 
chamber." 5 Save that they were apparently more distinguished 
actors, their status seems to have resembled that of the household 
players kept by the Queen's predecessors and by Elizabeth 
herself during the first decade or so of her reign. 6 The new 
company, as we shall shortly see, appears to have had no formal 
patent or warrant. Its position in London did not differ very 
essentially from that of the noblemen's companies which served 
the Queen at times, when they were backed, as they often were, 

1 Remembrancia, 336. 2 Ibid. 

s See Fleay, London Stage, 54; and the passage from Rawlidge's Monster 
Lately Found Out (1628), quoted in the 1821 Variorum, III, 46. 

4 Cunningham, Revels Accounts, 186. 

* See the passage from Howes' additions to Stow's Chronicle, edition of 1615, 
quoted in the 1821 Variorum, III, 49, note. 

8 See above, pp. 23, 26-27. 


by letters of the royal Council requiring that they be allowed to 
perform. But on its travels the very name of her Majesty's 
servants must have brought it consideration and profit, since the 
treatment accorded to players was so generally dependent upon 
the rank and influence of their patron. Even in London the 
Queen's name must often have overawed the city officials and 
protected the actors from trouble. Moreover, the Privy Council 
was even more energetic and urgent in securing for Her Majesty's 
Players the privilege of performing than it had been on behalf 
of the favored noblemen's companies. It does not, however, 
seem to me certain that, as most historians assume, the new 
company was formed for the express purpose of overcoming the 
opposition of the city officials. Such a course was not necessary. 
The Privy Council had at any time the power to get any players 
admitted to the City, and they had, as we have seen, frequently 
exercised it. The formation of the company may have been due 
to some desire to limit the number of performers necessary at 
Court ; to a willingness to favor certain players; and, most 
likely, to some plan for the better organization of court 
performances. Besides such motives as these, the royal 
officials may have felt that they could better supervise and 
control the Queen's own servants, when the Lords secured 
for them, for their necessary practice, playing privileges in 
London. The favored noblemen's companies were less directly 
responsible to the authorities, and perhaps less easy to keep in 

It seems probable that, supported by the power of the Queen's 
name, her players performed in London in the spring of 1583, 
in spite of the growing plague and the opposition of the City. 1 
But they could not have played long, for the infection soon 
became serious, and all performances in the City must have been 
stopped. 2 Writing to Sir Francis Walsingham on May 3, in 
reference to the plague, the Mayor points out that the restraints 
in London are useless, unless like orders are carried out in the 

1 This may perhaps be inferred from the Council's request to the Mayor, in 
the following autumn, that this company be allowed to play as heretofore. Re- 
membrancia, 352. 

2 See the Mayor's letter to a Middlesex Justice on April 27, 1583. Athenaeum, 
January 23, 1869. 


adjoining Liberties, and he requests the Privy Council to take 
steps to redress this danger. 1 He again forcibly urges the evils 
and demoralization caused by such performances, and the 
disreputable classes who frequent them. "Among other we 
finde one very great and dangerous inconvenience, the assemblie 
of people to playes, bearebayting, fencers and prophane spec- 
tacles at the Theatre and Curtaine and other like places, to 
which doe resorte great multitudes of the basist sort of people 
. . . and which be otherwise perilous for contagion, biside the 
withdrawing from Gods service, the peril of ruines of so weake 
byldinges and the avancement of incontinencie and most un- 
godly confederacies." 2 

The severity of the plague seems to have prevented perform- 
ances in the summer of 1583; but as the winter drew on the 
Privy Council wrote, on November 26, to the Lord Mayor on 
behalf of the new company. As the infection within the city 
had ceased, they desired that "Her Majesty's players might be 
suffered to play as heretofore, more especially as they were 
shortly to present some of their doings before her." 3 However 
much the municipality might resent this action, the officials 
dared not refuse such a direct command from the Crown. 
They relaxed their prohibition and allowed the players within 
the City; but with certain restrictions which caused dissatis- 
faction. A few days later — on December 1 — Sir Francis 
Walsingham wrote to the Mayor in the name of the Privy 
Council, reiterating the request of November 26. "With re- 
gard to the letter of the Council on behalf of her Majesty's 
players, which the Lord Mayor had interpreted to extend 
only to holidays, and not to other week-days, the Council, con- 
sidering that without frequent exercise of such plays as were 
to be presented before her Majesty her servants could not con- 
veniently satisfy her recreation and their own duty, desired that 
they should be licensed to perform upon week-days and work- 
days, at convenient times, between this and Shrovetide, Sundays 
only excepted." 4 Reluctant though the City was, it appar- 
ently had to submit. In spite of the municipal prohibition 

1 Remembrancia, 337. 3 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 352. 

3 Remembrancia, 352. * Ibid. 


of plays the Queen's company performed within the Mayor's 
jurisdiction in the winter of 1583, and, fortified with this prac- 
tice, appeared at Court during the Christmas festivities of that 
year. 1 

In the following summer, however, the tables were turned, 
and the City gained a . temporary victory. Fleetwood, the 
Recorder of London, was in the habit of writing to Lord Burgh- 
ley concerning events in the city, and our knowledge of this 
affair comes from one of these letters, written in June, 1584. 
According to his account, the Lord Mayor sent to the Court two 
Aldermen, with a request for the suppressing and pulling down 
of the Theater and the Curtain. Presumably the municipal 
officials had already stopped all performances within London. 
The royal government was at this time apparently anxious to 
conciliate the City, for all the Lords acceded to the request, 
except the Lord Chamberlain and the Vice-Chamberlain, — 
the natural friends and protectors of the players. "But," says 
Fleetwood, "we obtained a letter to suppress them all." On 
the same night the Recorder summoned before him the Queen's 
company and Lord Arundel's, who were then performing; and 
they all obeyed the Lords' letters. But when he sought to 
"bind" the "owner of the Theater" to obedience, the latter 
proved more obdurate. Fleetwood's account illustrates in an 
amusing manner the difficulty experienced by the city officials 
in disciplining noblemen's players, who, relying upon the pro- 
tection of their patron, were apt to prove insolent and disobedient. 
"He sent me word," writes the Recorder, "that he was my 
Lord of Hunsdens man and that he wold not comme at me, but 
he wold in the mornyng ride to my Lord. Then I sent the 
under-shereff for hym, and he browght hym to me, and, at his 
commyng, he showtted me owt very justice; and in the end I 
shewed hym my Lord his masters hand, and then he was more 
quiet; but, to die for it, he wold not be bound. And then I 
mynding to send hym to prison, he made sute that he might be 
bounde to appere at the oier and determiner, the which is to- 
morowe, where he said that he was suer the court wold not bynd 
hym, being a counselers man; and so I have graunted his 

1 See Chambers, in Modern Language Review, II, 1 (October, 1906). 

request, where he shal be sure to be bounde, or els lyke to do 

worse." 1 

The reasons for this action of the Lords in suppressing the 
theaters, and the results of it, are not clear. Apparently all per- 
formances in the City and the Liberties were stopped for a 
time ; but the Theater and the Curtain survived unscathed this 
order for their destruction — if such it was — as they did sub- 
sequent similar edicts. 

During this summer the players seem to have submitted to 
exclusion from London. But as the season for traveling and for 
performances in the outer suburbs ended and winter drew on, 
the Queen's company made another attempt to get admission into 
the City. With this object, they petitioned the Privy Council as 
follows, adducing the usual arguments to support their request : 

"In most humble manner beseche yo r Lis. yo r dutifull and daylie 
Orators the Queenes Ma tie8 poore Players. Whereas the tyme of 
our service draweth verie neere, so that of necessitie wee must needes 
have exercise to enable us the better for the same, and also for our 
better helpe and relief in our poore lyvinge, the ceason of the yere 
beynge past to playe att anye of the houses w th out the Cittye of Lon- 
don as in our articles annexed to this our Supplicacion maye more 
att large appeere unto yo r Lis. Our most humble peticion ys, thatt 
yt maye please yo r Lis. to vowchsaffe the readinge of these few Ar- 
ticles, and in tender considerasion of the matters therein mentioned, 
contayninge the verie staye and good state of our lyvinge, to graunt 
vnto us the confirmacion of the same, or of as many, or as much of 
them as shalbe to yo r honors good lykinge. And therw th all yo r Lis. 
favorable letters unto the L. Mayor of London to p'mitt us to exercise 
w th in the Cittye, accordinge to the Articles; and also thatt the said 
l'res maye contayne some order to the Justices of Midd'x, as in the 
same ys mentioned, wherebie as wee shall cease the continewall 
troublinge of yo r Lis. for yo r often l'res in the p' misses, so shall wee 
daylie be bownden to praye for the prosperous preservation of yo r 
Lis. in honor, helth, and happines long to continew. 

" Yo r LI" most humblie bownden 
and daylie Orators, 

her Ma ties poor Players." 2 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 377-378. This letter is in part hard to under- 
stand. The text given by Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 252-253, differs 
materially from that here quoted. 

a From the text printed by Hazlitt, English Drama, 31-32, from Lansdowne 
MS. 20. It is also printed by Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 212-213. 


This petition, with the subsequent correspondence, has 
usually been dated 1575, on account of the careless indorse- 
ment of that date upon the manuscripts.- But, as Mr. Chambers 
has suggested, 1 it must be at least as late as 1583. In the first 
place, the reply of the City to it contains a reference to the Paris 
Garden disaster of January 13, 1583. Most striking of all, the 
petitioners sign themselves the Queen's Majesty's Players, and 
the city authorities also refer to them by this title. No actors 
are thus designated in the other documents of this period except 
the Queen's company organized in March, 1583. The use of 
the title somewhat puzzled the historians who dated this corre- 
spondence in 1575. Collier suggested rather doubtfully that it 
referred to the Earl of Leicester's company ; 2 but these players 
are nowhere so designated. The petition must, then, be later 
than March, 1583. 

In their report on the request the municipal officials refer 
to this company as having performed in the city "last year." 3 
Therefore the petition and the ensuing correspondence must be 
as late as 1584. The petition is obviously written in the autumn 
or the beginning of winter, and the players desire to prepare for 
their service at Court, — probably at the Christmas festivities, 
as in the winter of 1583. In view of all these facts, the most 
probable date for the occurrence is the latter part of November, 
1584. 4 

The appeal of the Queen's players was evidently for permis- 
sion to act again in the inn yards of the City, and also, as appears 
by their request for letters to the Middlesex Justices, at the 
Theater or the Curtain. The "Articles" which they say they 
have annexed to their petition have disappeared ; but they evi- 
dently dealt with the regulations under which the players thought 
their performances should be allowed, — concerning hours, 

1 Academy, August 24, 1895. 

1 English Dramatic Poetry, I, 220. s See below, pp. 173-174. 

* Additional evidence in favor of the later date, as against 1575, may be 
adduced from the Council Register. No record of this petition, — though others 
are noted, — nor of any action on the request, appears in 1575. The Register 
is missing from June 26, 1582, to February 19, 1586. {Acts, XIII, xxxvi.) 
The affair therefore probably occurred within this period. 

Strype, in his edition of Stow's Survey, rightly dates the petition after the Paris 
Garden disaster. See the passage quoted in 1821 Variorum, III, 49-50, note. 


days, plague time, etc., — and discussed the municipal ordi- 
nances affecting the stage. In harmony with the consideration 
shown to the City the preceding summer, the Privy Council, before 
granting the players' request, seems to have sent the petition 
and the articles to the London authorities, and to have asked for 
their opinion on the matter. In the same manuscript in the 
Lansdowne collection which contains the petition there are two 
documents which are evidently the reply of the City. The first 
is a letter disputing the players' assertions concerning the muni- 
cipal ordinances regulating the drama, and stating that the 
writer is sending, for the better information of the Lords, copies 
of the two acts in question, — that of December, 1574, 1 and the 
order of expulsion which we have conjecturally dated 1582. 2 
The letter also rehearses briefly the history of this legislation. 

"It may please your good Lp. 

" The orders in London whereunto the players referr them are mis- 
conceaued, as may appeare by the two actes of com'on Counsell 
which I send yow w'th note (ft^* directing to the place. 

"The first of these actes of Comon counsell was made in the mar- 
altie of Hawes XVII° Regine, and sheweth a maner how plaies were 
to be tollerated and vsed, although it were rather wished that they 
were wholly discontinued for the causes appearing in the preamble; 
w'ch is for that reason somewhat the longer. 

" Where the players reporte the order to be that they shold not playe 
till after seruice time: the boke is otherwise; for it is that they shal 
not onely not play in seruice time; but also shal not receue any in 
seruice time to se the same: for thoughe they did forbeare begining 
to play till seruice were done, yet all the time of seruice they did take 
in people, w'ch was the great mischef in withdrawing the people 
from seruice. 

"Afterward when these orders were not obserued, and the lewd 
maters of playes encreasced and in the haunt vnto them were found 
many dangers, bothe for religion, state, honestie of manners, onthrifti- 
nesse of the poore, and danger of infection &c. and the preachers 
dayly cryeng against the L. Maior and his bretheren, in an Act of 
Com'on Counsel for releafe of the poore w'ch I send yow printed, in 
the Article 62 the last leafe; is enacted as there appeareth, by w'ch 
there are no enterludes allowed in London in open spectacle but in 
priuate howses onely at marriages or such like, w'ch may suffise, and 
sute is apointed to be made that they may be likewise banished in 
places adioyning. 

1 See above, p. 156. 'See above, p. 164. 


"Since that time and namely vpon the mine at Parise garden, sute 
was made to my S'rs to banishe playes wholly in the places ncre 
London, according to the said lawe, letters were obtained from my 
S'rs to banishe them on the sabbat daies."- 1 

The other document on the city side is a vigorous and inter- 
est ing report which takes up point by point all the contentions 
and proposals made by the players in their petition and articles. 2 
To the argument of the necessity of practice for the performances 
before the Queen, the municipal authorities retort that it is not 
fitting to present before her Majesty such plays as have been 
"commonly played in open stages before all the basest assem- 
blies in London and Middlesex"; but that the players ought 
to " exercise " only in private houses. As for the actors' conten- 
tion that they must play in order to earn their living, the City 
replies by asserting that no one should practise such a profession, 
but that plays should be presented by way of recreation by men 
with other means of subsistence, — an apparent reference to 
the custom of guild plays. The report of the municipal authori- 
ties on the regulations proposed by the actors is summed up 
in the "Remedies" quoted below. A few extracts, however, 
are interesting enough to be cited at length. The players had 
evidently suggested that performances should be allowed when- 
ever the deaths from the plague were under fifty a week. To 
this the City retorts first, rather epigrammatically, that "to 
play in plagetime is to increase the plage by infection : to play 
out of plagetime is to draw the plage by offendinge of God vpon 
occasion of such playes." But if performances must be toler- 
rated in seasons of infection, the City thinks some better rule 
could be found than that proposed by the actors. "It is an 
vncharitable demaund against the safetie of the Quenes subiects, 
and per consequens of her person, for the gaine of a few, whoe 
if they were not her Ma tie8 servaunts should by their profession 
be rogues, to esteme fefty a weke so small a number as to be 
cause of tolerating the adventure of infection." 3 The granting 

1 From a transcript of Lansdowne MS. 20, no. 11. The letter is not signed. 

2 Printed in full in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 214 ff. There is a 
summary in Fleay, London Stage, 46-47. 

3 Collier, op. cit., 215. For a further account of the plague rule proposed by 
the City see below, p. 212. 


of permission to the Queen's company only, they finally assert, 
is "lesse evil than to graunt moe"; but they earnestly request 
the Lords to specify, in their letters or warrants, the number 
and the names of the Queen's players, since "last year, when 
such toleration was of the Quenes players only, all the places of 
playeng were filled with men calling themselves the Queenes 
players." The company had evidently had no regular patent 
or license. 

As the players had proposed certain regulations, so the city 
authorities, in their turn, apparently drew up the rules which 
they thought should govern performances, — if plays must be 
tolerated at all. These are entitled "The Remedies," and are 
included in the same Lansdowne MS. with the other documents 
just cited. 

"That they hold them content with playeng in private houses at 
weddings, &c. without publike assemblies. 

"If more be thought good to be tolerated, that then they be re- 
strained to the orders in the act of common Counsel, tempore Hawes. 1 

"That they play not openly till the whole death in London haue 
ben by xx daies vnder 50 a weke, nor longer than it shal so continue. 2 

"That no playes be on the Sabbat. 

"That no playeng be on holydaies, but after evening prayer, nor 
any received into the auditorie till after evening prayer. 

"That no playeng be in the dark, nor continue any such time but 
as any of the auditorie may returne to their dwellings in London before 
Sonne set, or at least before it be dark. 

"That the Quenes players only be tolerated, and of them their num- 
ber, and certaine names, to be notified in your Ll p * lettres to the L. 
Maior and to the Justices of Midd'x and Surrey. And those her 
players not to divide themselves into several companies. 

"That for breaking any of these orders their toleration cease." 3 

With this communication from the city authorities, our knowl- 
edge of the 1 580-1 584 controversy comes to an end. What 
action the Privy Council took upon these "Remedies" does not 
appear. But it is probable that some compromise measure 

1 That is, the act of December, 1574, considered above, pp. 156 ft. 

2 That is, the deaths from all causes, not from the plague alone, as the players 
had apparently suggested. 

3 From the text given by Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 217. 


was adopted, including some of the municipal rules. Evi- 
dently the long struggle of the City did not avail to keep plays, 
entirely out of London. Performances continued in the Lib- 
erties, and even — at least by the Queen's company, and later 
by others as well — in the inn yards of the City. The result 
must therefore have been bitterly unsatisfactory to the Puritans, 
who had pleaded so vigorously for the complete banishment of 
actors from all the neighborhood of London. But the earnest 
arguments of the municipal officials no doubt caused the enact- 
ment of restrictive measures more rigid than the Privy Council 
would otherwise have required. 

The most bitter stage of the City's warfare on the drama was 
now over. Between 1584 and 1592 there seems to have been 
at least a partial cessation of the struggle. During the five 
years immediately following the dispute that we have just been 
tracing, there is little of importance to note in the regulation of 
the London stage, except a few orders issued by the Privy Coun- 
cil. These indicate that performances were continuing in and 
about London. In May, 1586, the danger from the plague 
grew serious enough to warrant the Lord Mayor in requesting 
the suppression of plays. The Lords accordingly prohibited per- 
formances in London, at the Theater, and at places about 
Newington. 1 A year later there seems to have been again 
danger of infection in the hot season. Because of this, and also 
of some "outrages and disorders" lately committed at playing 
places in London and the suburbs, the Privy Council, on May 7, 
1587, ordered the Mayor, the Justices of Surrey, and the Master 
of the Rolls 2 to permit no more plays until after Bartholomew 
tide. 3 There had been for some time — at least since the Paris 
Garden disaster — a general rule against performances on Sun- 
day; but it was irregularly enforced. On October 29, 1587, 
some inhabitants of Southwark complained to the Privy Coun- 
cil of the breach of this law, especially in the Liberty of the 
Clink, and the Lords ordered the Justices of the Peace to be 
more strict in preventing such offenses. 4 

For the next two years nothing of especial interest seems to 

1 Acts, XIV, 99, 102. 2 See above, p. 54. 

3 Acts, XV, 70. 4 Ibid., 271. 


have occurred in our department of stage history. Possibly the 
nation was too much absorbed in the conflict with the Armada 
to devote much attention to warfare over the theaters. In 1589 
came the Martin Marprelate controversy, the trouble with the 
censorship and the temporary suppression of plays, which we 
have already discussed. 1 From the point of view of the London 
administration there are a few points to add to the history of 
this affair. It is noteworthy that the order for the suppression 
of plays was not sent to the Lord Mayor, as usual. In his letter 
to Lord Burghley, already quoted, he states, "Where by a Pre 
of your Lordships, directed to Mr. Yonge, it appered unto me 
that it was your ho: pleasure that I sholde geve order for the 
staie of all playes within the cittie, in that Mr. Tilney did utterly 
mislike the same." 2 The Mr. Yonge here mentioned seems 
to have been the Richard Yonge who was one of the Middlesex 
Justices having authority over the Theater, the Curtain, and 
adjoining districts. 3 Why the Privy Council did not, as usual, 
communicate directly with the Mayor is not apparent. Per- 
haps they merely wished to stop the plays at the two theaters, 
and the Mayor, hearing of this, seized the opportunity to sup- 
press all performances in the City as well. 

The Mayor's account of the difficulty he had in stopping the 
plays in London is another illustration of the mutinous and dis- 
respectful attitude towards the municipal authorities some- 
times shown by the players, confident, as they seem to have been, 
of the powerful influence and protection of their patrons. Two 
companies were apparently performing in the inn yards of the 
City at the time, — the Lord Admiral's and Lord Strange's, — 
whom the Mayor summoned before him and, as he says, "to 
whome I speciallie gave in charge, and required them in her 
Majestys name, to forbere playinge untill further order might be 
geven for theire allowance in that respect : Whereupon the 
Lord Admeralls players very dutifullie obeyed ; but the others, 
in very contemptuous manner departing from me, wente to the 
Crosse Keys, and played that afternoone to the greate offence 

1 See above, pp. 91-92. J Hazlitt, English Drama, 34. 

8 See the order of June 23, 1592, addressed to him and to other Middlesex 
Justices. Acts, XXII, 549. 


of the better sortc, that knew they were prohibited by order 
from your Lordship. Which as I might not suffer, so I sent for 
the said contemptuous persons, who havcing no reason to al- 
leadgc for theire contempte, I could do no less but this eveninge 
committ tow of them to one of the Compters." ' 

The agitation of the Martinist controversy resulted, as we 
have seen, in the appointment of a censorship commission on 
which the City was represented; but really marked the end of 
municipal licensing and the rise of the Master of the Revels to 
censoring power. 

A rather quaint order was issued by the Lords on July 25, 
1591, showing them as apparently for once more zealous against 
Sabbath breaking than the Lord Mayor himself, and coupling 
two somewhat incongruous requests. They have noticed, they 
inform the Mayor, some neglect of the order against playing on 
the Sabbath Day; and have also observed that performances on 
Thursdays are a "greate hurte and destruction of the game of 
beare baytinge and lyke pastymes, which are mayntayned for 
her Majestys pleasure yf occacion require." On these two days, 
therefore, they direct that no plays be allowed, for the greater 
reverence of God and the encouragement of the Queen's bear 
baiters. 2 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, 34-35. 3 Acts, XXI, 324-325. 


Local Regulations in London 


The last decade of the sixteenth century, the years during 
which Shakspere was rising to preeminence, is of much interest 
in the history of stage regulations. As viewed through the 
official documents, it presents a course of events somewhat 
different from the decade of the eighties. One is impressed 
particularly by the great disorders at the theaters. London dur- 
ing these years was apparently especially overrun by tramps and 
riotous persons. In 1595 and again in 1598, because of the large 
number of rogues and vagabonds in the City and the suburbs, 
the Privy Council found it necessary to appoint a Provost Mar- 
shal with power over London and the adjoining counties. 1 
During the period the theaters seem to have been undoubtedly 
one of the chief gathering points for these vagabonds, for various 
sorts of cutpurses and rascals, and for the reckless apprentices 
who were thus lured from their work into evil ways. The city 
authorities realized vividly all these troubles. It is notable that 
throughout the decade this is the argument against plays which 
the municipality chiefly emphasizes, — that they serve as the 
rendezvous for rascals, nests of crime, and places of demoraliza- 
tion for the apprentices. The Puritan contention that theatrical 
performances are in themselves sinful, and draw down the wrath 
of God, is scarcely brought forward, — in contrast to the course 
of the argument during the years 1 580-1 584. The Privy Coun- 
cil, on its side, seems at times to have acquired something of the 
Puritan attitude. In 1593, for instance, it forbids plays at the 

1 Acts, XXIX, 132-133, 140, 206. 


universities, because they may corrupt the students and allure 
them to "lewdness and vicious manners." ' The danger of fo- 
menting crime and disorder that arose from the London theaters, 
the Lords frankly recognized and tried to guard against. Though 
they continued to grant privileges to the few favored companies 
needed for the Queen's amusement, they passed at times ex- 
tremely severe orders against the other theaters, — measures 
severe in their conception, at least, but never rigorously carried 

As we have seen in a preceding chapter, by the year 1592 the 
Master of the Revels had to a considerable extent established his 
licensing power, and had authorized playing places in and about 
the City. In despair of securing; from the Privy Council pro- 
tection against this crown officer,Jtne Aldermen appealed for aid 
to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and, though Whitgift was by 
no means of Puritan leanings, were successful in obtaining his 
intercession. 2 Their appeal, written on February 25, 1592, 
contains a vigorous recital of the dangers of the theaters, — inform- 
ing the Archbishop of "the daily disorderly exercise of a number 
of players and playing houses erected within the City, whereby 
the youths of the City were greatly corrupted, and their manners 
infected with many evils and ungodly qualities, by reasonof the 
wanton and profane devices represented on the stages^ The 
apprentices and servants were withdrawn from their work, to 
the great hindrance of the trades and traders of the City, and the 
propagation of religion. Besides, to these places resorted the 
light and lewd disposed persons, as harlots, cutpurses, cozeners, 
pilferers, etc., who, under colour of hearing plays, devised divers 
evil and ungodly matches, confederacies and conspiracies, which 
could not be prevented." 3 

In the following summer danger of serious riots drove the 
Privy Council to recognize the justice of some of the Aldermen's 
accusations against the theaters. On May 30, 1592, the Lord 
Mayor reported to the Lord Treasurer a serious tumult and dis- 
order in Southwark. 4 Fearing similar and graver rioting on 
Midsummer Night, the Lords issued, on June 23, an edict pro- 

1 Acts, XXIV, 427-428. : See above, p. 55-56. 

3 Heme ■mbrancia, 352. * Athenaum, January 23, 1869. 


viding for rigid precautions against disorder in and about Lon- 
don on that occasion. The glimpse of armed householders on 
watch against mutinous apprentices which this affords, is an 
interesting illustration of the rather primitive methods of keeping 
order practised in Elizabethan London; and the command for 
the closing of the playing places shows a clear recognition by the 
Privy Council of the danger to which these resorts gave rise. 
The following extract is from the form of order sent to the 
Middlesex Justices. 

"Whereas her Majestie is informed that certaine apprentyces and 
other idle people theire adherentes that were authors and partakers 
of the late mutynous and foule disorder in Southwarke in moste out- 
rageous and tumultuous sorte, have a further purpose and meaninge 
on Midsommer eveninge or Midsommer nighte or about that tyme 
to renewe theire lewd assemblye togeather by cullour of the tyme 
for some bad and mischeivous intencion, to the disturbance and 
breache of her Majesty's Peace, and comyttinge some outrage. To 
prevente in tyme theis wicked and mischeivous purposes wee have 
given straighte order to the Maiour of London for the cittye and the 
liberties thereunto belonginge and to all other places neere to the same 
to have regarde hereunto, and so likewyse wee are in her Majesty's 
name straightlie to chardge and comaunde you presentlye upon 
sighte hereof to sende for the constables and some of the cheifest and 
discreetest inhabitauntes in Holborne, Clerkenwell, St. Giles in the 
Fieldes, &c. and other places neere thereaboutes, and to chardge 
and comaunde them to take order that there maye be a stronge and 
substancyall watch kept bothe on Midsommer eveninge, Midsommer 
night and Sondaye at nighte of housholders and masters of families, 
to contynue from the beginninge of the eveninge untill the morninge, 
and that all masters of servantes and of apprentices be straightlie 
chardged, as they will answere to the contrarye at theire perilles, to 
keepe theire servauntes in theire houses for those two nightes, so as they 
maie be within the dores before the eveninge and not suffered to come 
forthe, nor to have anye weapons yf they shoulde be so lewdlie dis- 
posed to execute any evill purpose. And yf notwithstandinge this 
straighte chardge and comaundement any servantes, apprentyces or 
other suspected persons shalbe founde in the streetes, to see them 
presentlie commytted to pryson. Especiallie you shall take order 
that theis watches of housholders maye be of that strength with theire 
weapons as they maie be hable yf there be anie uprore, tumult or 
unlawful assemblye to suppresse the same. Moreover for avoidinge 
of theis unlawfull assemblies in those quarters, yt is thoughte meete 
you shall take order that there be noe playes used in anye place neere 


thereaboutes, as the thcator, curtayne or other usuall places where 
the same are comonly used, nor no other sorte of unlawfull or forhi«l - 
den pastymes that draw togeather the baser sorte of people, from 
hence forth untill the feast of St. Michaell." 1- 

By the orders sent out on this occasion, all plays were forbidden 
in and about London between June 23 and September 29, 1592. 
It seems probable that it was during this summer, and as a re- 
sult of this restriction, that Lord Strange's company addressed 
to the Privy Council the undated petition preserved in the Dul- 
wich MSS. This may, however, have been presented in 1593, 
though the very severe plague which lasted all that summer and 
autumn makes it seem improbable that the Lords would have 
granted in that season the permission to open the Rose which 
apparently resulted from the petition. 2 About August, 1592, 
then, — if we accept that year as the more probable, — Lord 
Strange's players petitioned the Lords for permission to reopen 
their playhouse on the Bankside, — that is, the Rose. Their 
company is large, they plead, and the cost of traveling the coun- 
try intolerable. The opening of their theater will enable them 
to be ready to serve her Majesty, and it will also be a great help 
to the poor watermen, who earn their living largely by trans- 
porting the audiences to and from the Bankside. 3 This appeal 
was apparently seconded by a petition to the Lord High Admiral 
from the watermen, preserved among the same manuscripts. 
They beg for the opening of Henslowe's playhouse as a measure 
of relief for themselves and their families. 4 It was no doubt as a 
result of these appeals that the Lords issued the following un- 
dated order. 

"To the Justices, Bayliffes, Constables and others to whome yt 
shall apperteyne. Whereas, not longe since, upon some considera- 

1 Acts, XXII, 540-551. And see above, pp. 145-146. 

2 Fleay (London Stage, 85-86) dates the petition 1592, as does Greg (Henslowe 
Papers, 42). Collier says 1593. (Alleyn Memoirs, 2,2,.) There is no entry of 
the resulting Council Order in the Register for 1592. For the summer of 1593 
the Register is lost. This perhaps points to the later date as the more probable 

3 Collier, Alleyn Memoirs, 33-34; Henslowe Papers, 42. 

4 Collier, Alleyn Memoirs, 34-35; Henslowe Papers, 42-43. Compare the 
suit of the watermen against the players' leaving the Bankside in 1613. 1821 
Variorum, III, 149 ff., note. 


tions, we did restraine the Lorde Straunge his servauntes from play- 
inge at the Rose on the Banckside, and enjoyned them to plaie three 
daies at Newington Butts. 1 Now, forasmuch as wee are satisfied that 
by reason of the tediousness of the waie, and that of longe tyme 
plaies have not there bene used on working daies, and for that a nom- 
ber of poore watermen are therby releeved, yow shall permitt and 
suffer them, or any other there, to exercise themselves in suche sorte 
as they have don heretofore, and that the Rose maie be at libertie, 
without any restrainte, so longe as yt shalbe free from infection of 
sicknes. Any commaundement from us heretofore to the contrye 
notwithstandinge." 2 

By January 28, 1593, the severe plague which raged during 
that year had already become so serious that the Privy Council 
ordered the prohibition of all plays, bear-baitings, and other like 
assemblages within the City or seven miles thereof. 3 To assist 
the favored players during this hard season, the Lords issued, 
in the spring, to the companies of the Earl of Sussex and Lord 
Strange, traveling licenses authorizing them to perform anywhere 
outside the prohibited area. 4 

Another case illustrative of the interference of individual noble- 
men to secure for their players privileges within the City, such as 
we have already seen, is found on October 8, 1594, when the 
Lord Chamberlain, Lord Hunsdon, requested of the Lord Mayor 
permission for his company to perform at the inn yard of the 
Cross Keys. As the document throws some interesting light on 
the conditions of the performances, it is worth quoting at length. 

"Where my nowe company of players have byn accustomed for 
the better exercise of their qualitie and for the service of her Majestie 
if need soe requier, to plaie this winter time within the Citye at the 
Crosse Kayes in Gratious Street, these are to require and praye your 
Lordship to permitt and suffer them soe to doe, the which I praie you 
the rather to doe for that they have undertaken to me that where 
heretofore they began not their playes till towardes fower a clock, they 
will now begin at two and have don betwene fower and five, and will 
nott use anie drumes or trumpettes att all for the callinge of peopell 

1 This order to play at Newington is apparently not preserved, and its date 
and purpose are hard to establish. The dating of all this series of documents is, 
in fact, decidedly unsatisfactory. 

2 Collier, Alleyn Memoirs, 36; Henslowe Papers, 43-44. 
8 Acts, XXIV, 31-32. * See above, p. 34. 


together, and shal be contributories to the poore of the parishe where 
they plaie accordinge to their liabilities." * 

Much as the London authorities disliked performances in the 
inn yards within the City, the Lord Mayor would hardly have 
dared to refuse the direct request of so powerful a nobleman and 
official ; and we may probably assume that the Lord Chamber- 
lain's company performed at the Cross Keys that winter, as they 
had been accustomed to do. 2 

But the new Mayor who took office on October 28 seems to 
have renewxd with zeal the attack on the stage. ( On November 
3, 1594, he wrote to the Lord Treasurer informing him of the 
intended erection of a new stage or theater on the Bankside — 
the Swan, no doubt — and praying that this might be prevented, 
on account of the evils arising therefrom. 3 This appeal seems 
to have been of no avail in stopping the building of the Swan; 
but the Mayor, not yet discouraged, made a far more sweeping 
demand in the following autumn, on September 13, 1595, — 
nothing less than the complete suppression of all plays about the 
City. \ Again he urges the disorder and crime hatched within the 

"Among other inconvenyences it is not the least that the refuse 
sort of evill disposed and ungodly people about this Cytie have opor- 
tunitie hearby to assemble together and to make their matches for 
all their lewd and ungodly practizes, being also the ordinary places 
for all maisterles men and vagabond persons that haunt the high 
waies to meet together and to recreate themselfes, whearof wee begin 
to have experienc again within these fiew daies since it pleased her 
highnes to revoke her comission graunted forthe to the Provost Mar- 
shall, for fear of home they retired themselfes for the time into other 
partes out of his precinct, but ar now retorned to their old haunt, and 
frequent the plaies, as their manner is, that ar daily shewed at the 
Theator and Bankside, whearof will follow the same inconveniences, 
whearof wee have had to much experienc heartofore, for preventing 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Illustrations, 31-32; Maas, Englischc Theatertruppen, 

7 Fleay conjectures that the request was refused, but offers no proof. (London 
Stage, 134.) He is apt to underestimate the frequency of these inn-yard per- 
formances, falling into occasional errors in his stage history of this period because 
of his attempt to assign companies to fixed playhouses and not to inns. 

' Remembrancia, 353. 


whearof wee ar humble suters to your good LI. and the rest to direct 
your lettres to the Justics of Peac of Surrey and Middlesex for the 
present stay and finall suppressing of the said plaies, as well at the 
Theator and Bankside as in all other places about the Citie." ' 

But the Council apparently took no action. It would seem 
that at this time the Mayor had succeeded, temporarily at least, 
in stopping plays in the city inn yards. On July 22, 1596, the 
plague again came to the aid of the Puritans, and the Lords 
ordered the Justices of Middlesex and Surrey to suppress per- 
formances. 2 Another ally now seems to have helped the muni- 
cipal authorities. Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain, long 
a warm friend to the players, died; and on August 8, 1596, Lord 
Cobham was appointed in his place. Cobham apparently had 
Puritan leanings, and the rigorous orders passed against the 
players during the next couple of years have generally been 
attributed to his influence. But as his short administration 
was ended by his death on March 5, 1597, four months before 
the order for the demolition of the theaters, it is difficult to be 
sure how far he was responsible for the severity. 

There is evidence, however, that in the summer of 1596 the 
players felt the hardship of having a puritanical nobleman in 
the position of Lord Chamberlain, — hitherto generally one of 
the chief protectors of the drama. In a letter written by Nash 
to William Cotton some time between June 29 and October 10 — 
and apparently after August 8, when Cobham became Chamber- 
lain — the dramatist complains that "the players are piteously 
persecuted by the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen ; and, however 
in their old Lord's time they thought their state settled, it is now 
so uncertain they cannot build upon it." The "old Lord" 
seems to refer to Hunsdon, the late Chamberlain and friend to 
the actors. 3 

The attack on the theaters was now continued vigorously. 
In November, 1596, the inhabitants of Blackfriars petitioned the 
Privy Council against the "common playhouse" which, they 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 340-350. There is a brief summary in Re- 
memoranda, 354. 
8 Acts, XXVI, 38. 
8 See Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 292; Fleay, London Stage, 157. 


informed the Lords, Burbagc was about to construct in that 
Liberty./ In this appeal they emphasize the annoyance and 
danger that the playhouse will cause to the noblemen and other 
residents of the precinct jn>oth by reason of the great resort and 
gathering togeathcr of all manner of vagrant and lewde persons 
that, under cullor of resorting to the playes, will come thither 
and worke all manner of mischeefc, and also the greate pestring 
and rilling up of the same precinct, yf it should please God to 
send any visitation of sicknesse as heretofore hath been, for that 
the same precinct is allready growne very populous, and besides 
that the same playhouse is so neere the Church that the noyse 
of the drummes and trumpetts will greatly disturbe and hinder 
both the ministers and parishioners in tyme of devine service 
and sermons." For these reasons, and also because "there hath 
not at any tyme heretofore been used any comon playhouse 
within the same precinct, but that now all players being ban- 
ished by the Lord Mayor from playing within the Cittie by reason 
of the great inconveniences and ill rule that followeth them, they 
now thincke to plant them selves in liberties," the petitioners beg 
the Lords to forbid the use of this building as a playhouse. The 
name of Lord Cobham, the Lord Chamberlain, a resident of the 
precinct, does not appear among the signers of the petition, but 
we find there that of George, Lord Hunsdon, son of the former 
Chamberlain, and about to succeed Cobham in that office. 
This seems to reverse the attitude towards players usually attrib- 
uted to these two noblemen. 1 

The question of the Blackfriars theater presents many puz- 
zling features. It is now well known that the petition purport- 
ing to come from Burbage, Shakspere and others, immediately 
after the appeal from the Blackfriars residents, and stating that 
the playhouse has already been in use for years, is a forgery. 2 
Though Burbage's theater did not come into existence until 
1596, there had been, however, plays in Blackfriars for many 
years before this; and the statement of the inhabitants that there 
had never been any "common playhouse" in the precinct is 

1 The petition is printed at length in Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 461-462. 
'See its condemnation in Stale Papers, Dom., 1595-1597, 310. Hazlitt 
printed the document in good faith in English Drama, 35-37. 


therefore at first a trifle puzzling. We must infer that they did 
not apply this term to the inn yard, priory hall, Revels Office 
building, or wherever the performances had hitherto taken 
place. 1 But they do call Burbage's proposed theater a "com- 
mon playhouse," as does the order of the city authorities sup- 
pressing it in 1619. The players, however, and their patrons, 
seem to have been careful to call it a "private house," and this 
is the term applied to it in the royal patents of 1619 and 1625. 
By representing it as a "private house," the players apparently 
expected to escape the laws directed against "common play- 
houses," — a result that they seem to have achieved in part. It 
is difficult to see on what grounds they based their contention. 
Though the construction of this theater within doors was very 
different from that of the "common playhouses," the price of 
admission higher, and the audience apparently of a better class, 
the mere fact that money was charged for admission would seem 
to have stamped it as a public theater and subjected it to the 
usual laws. Such, at least, would have been the case under the 
regulations laid down by the London ordinance of 1574. 2 As 
a matter of fact, the status of the theater seems to have remained 
ill defined. 

What action the Privy Council took on the petition from the 
inhabitants of Blackfriars does not clearly appear. According 
to the municipal order of 1619, which recites the history of this 
theater, after the appeal the Lords "then forbad the use of the 
said howse for playes, and in June, 1600, made certaine orders 
by which, for many weightie reasons therein expressed, it is 
limitted there should be only two playhowses tolerated, whereof 
the one to be on the Banckside, and the other in or neare Golding 
Lane, exempting thereby the Blackfryers." But in defiance of 
this law the owner of the theater " under the name of a private 
howse hath converted the same to a publique playhowse." 3 It 
seems at least fairly clear that, whether or no the Lords did ac- 
cede to the request of the residents of the precinct, and whether or 
no they intended the order of 1600 to suppress the Blackfriars 
theater, — as the city authorities always insist they did, — that 

1 See Bond's Lyly, I, 24-25, note; Chambers, Tudor Revels, 18. 

2 See above, p. 158. 3 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 474-475. 


playhouse, as a matter of fact, was completed according to Bur- 
bage's plan, and flourished practically undisturbed until 1619. 
It is possible that its apparent immunity during the earlier part 
of the period was partially due to the fact that it was occupied 
by the Chapel Children, — a company which, as we shall pres- 
ently see, was probably exempt from many of the restrictions 
applying to common players. A playhouse of uncertain status, 
in a precinct of uncertain status, occupied by actors of uncertain 
status, its legal position is indeed hard to define. 

In the following summer, the Lord Mayor made another 
attack on the theaters, — a move which seemed at first trium- 
phantly successful. On July 28, 1597, in a letter to the Privy 
Council, he presented the following appeal : — 

"Wee havefownd by th' examination of divers apprentices and other 
servantes, whoe have confessed unto us that the saide staige playes 
were the very places of theire randevous appoynted by them to meete 
with such otheir as wear to joigne with them in theire designes and 
mutinus attemptes, beeinge allso the ordinarye places for maisterles 
men to come together to recreate themselves, for avoydinge wheareof 
wee are nowe againe most humble and earnest suitors to your honors 
to dirrect your lettres as well to ourselves as to the Justices of Peace 
of Surrey and Midlesex for the present staie and fynall suppressinge of 
the saide stage playes as well at the Theatre, Curten and Banckside, 
as in all other places in and abowt the Citie." * 

On the same day, in prompt response to this appeal, the Lords 
issued an order in the name of the Queen, for the prohibition 
of all plays within three miles of the City during the summer, 
until after November 1, and also for the demolition of all theaters 
within the same area. "Her Majestie being informed," they 
wrote to the Middlesex Justices, "that there are verie greate 
disorders committed in the common playhouses both by lewd 
matters that are handled on the stages, and by resorte and con- 
fluence of bad people," she has given order that there be no more 
plays during the summer, and also that "those playhouses that 
are erected and built only for suche purposes shalbe plucked 
downe, namelie the Curtayne and the Theatre nere to Shorditch, 
or any other within that county." The Justices are directed 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlims, 351. 



to send for the owners of the playhouses and order them to 
"plucke downe quite the stages, gallories and roomes that are 
made for people to stand in, and so to deface the same as they 
maie not be ymploied agayne to suche use." If they do not 
speedily do this, the magistrates must inform the Council, which 
will take order to enforce this command. A similar com- 
munication, we find from the Council Register, was sent to the 
Justices of Surrey, '* requiring them to take the like order for 
the playhouses in the Banckside, in Southwarke or elswhere 
in the said county within iij e miles of London." l As the new 
Blackfriars theater was not under the jurisdiction of either the 
Middlesex or the Surrey magistrates, it seems to have been ex- 
cluded from these orders for demolition. 

Assuredly the Mayor could hardly have desired a more sweep- 
ing and rigorous edict. Even now, as one reads its stern com- 
mands, it is difficult to realize that it had scarcely the slightest 
effect upon the theaters. Probably plays ceased for a time, but 
the order for the destruction of the playhouses apparently no one 
even tried to enforce. 2 Again we appreciate what powerful 
influence the players must have been able to command, what 
friendship on the part of their patrons or of the Queen must have 
been brought into play, to cause this nullification of the Council's 
orders at this time. 

Just what it was that caused even a temporary desire, on the 
part of the Lords, to take such severe measures against the thea- 
ters, does not appear. Mr. Fleay suggests that the suppression 
of plays was due to the trouble over the representation of Sir 
John Oldcastle in Henry IV ; z but there seems to be no evidence 
for this, and one would certainly not expect such a severe pun- 
ishment for a comparatively slight offense, — one which was, 
moreover, apparently so promptly atoned for. 4 As I have al- 

1 Acts, XXVII, 313-314. Printed in part in Halliwcll-Phillipps, Outlines, 


2 The Theater, it is true, was torn down in the winter of 1 598-1 599, and its 
materials used in the construction of the Globe, on the Bankside. This, however, 
was not in consequence of the Council Order, but chiefly because of the expira- 
tion of Burbage's lease of the Holywell land. See Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 

354 ff. 

5 London Stage, 158. * See above, pp. 96-97. 


ready mentioned, William Brooke, Lord Cobham, the puritan- 
ical Lord Chamberlain to whose influence the order is often 
attributed, had died four months before, and George, Lord 
Hunsdon, admittedly the friend of the players, had been Cham- 
berlain for about three months. 

In spite of the stern attitude towards the drama taken tempora- 
rily by the Privy Council, we find, a few monthslater, that the Lords 
had granted special privileges to the two companies accustomed 
to perform before the Queen. On February 19, 1598, as we have 
already seen, the Council mentioned the special license, the mo- 
nopoly of playing, which they had given to the Lord Admiral's 
and the Lord Chamberlain's companies; and ordered Tilney 
to suppress the intruding third company, and any others who 
might presume to play. 1 

That the Bankside theaters, at least, were flourishing in 
the following summer, appears from an entry in the Parish 
Register of St. Saviour's, on July 19, 1598. The vestry deter- 
mined to appeal to the Privy Council for the suppression of the 
playhouses in that vicinity, and to show "the enormities that 
come thereby to the parish." 2 That the suffering of the resi- 
dents from the gathering of disorderly persons at the theaters 
may well have been exceptionally great during this summer, is 
shown by the appointment of a Provost Marshal by the Privy 
Council on September 6, to deal with the unusual number of 
rogues and vagabonds in and about London. 3 Though the 
parish did not succeed in getting the Bankside theaters sup- 
pressed, its feelings were doubtless somewhat mollified by the 
arrangements later made, in March, 1600, for the players' con- 
tributions of money for the poor. 4 

The final notable stage in the history of theatrical regulations 
under Elizabeth opens with the erection of the Fortune theater 
about January, 1600, and includes the order for the restriction 
of playhouses which followed upon this event and gave rise to 
considerable governmental correspondence during the next few 
years. The Middlesex Justices apparently opposed in some 

1 See above, p. 58. 

2 Chalmers, Apology, 404; 1821 Variorum, III, 452, note. 

3 See above, p. 178. ' See above, p. 60. 


way the erection of Alleyn and Henslowe's new theater. On 
January 12, 1600, the Earl of Nottingham, Lord Admiral, came 
to the aid of his company by sending to the Middlesex magis- 
trates a letter "praying and requiring" them to permit his ser- 
vant, Edward Alleyn, to proceed in " theffectinge and finisheing" 
of the new playhouse. The site is very convenient, he urges, and 
the house the actors have hitherto occupied, the Rose, in so 
dangerous a state of decay that it is no longer fit for use. These 
players, moreover, have acted before the Queen and are favored 
by her. 1 In spite of this urgent appeal there seems to have been 
further opposition to the theater. But the company now suc- 
ceeded in getting support from the residents of the locality where 
they wished to settle. "The Inhabitants of the Lordship of 
Finsbury" sent to the Privy Council a "Certificate of their 
Consent to the Tolleration of the Erection of the new Playhouse 
there." As reasons for their approval, they stated that the place 
chosen for the theater was a remote one, and that the erectors 
of the house were to contribute a liberal sum weekly towards the 
relief of the poor, — a duty which the parish itself was not 
wealthy enough to perform adequately. 2 Perhaps impressed 
by the unusual welcome accorded by the neighbors of the pro- 
posed playhouse, but more probably at the instigation of the 
Lord Admiral, the Queen now seems to have intervened. On 
April 8, 1600, the Privy Council sent to the Middlesex Justices 
a warrant requiring them, by order of the Queen, to permit 
Edward Alleyn to complete his theater in the "verie remote 
and exempt place neare Gouldinge Lane." This new house, the 
Lords write, is to take the place of the Rose, which is to be pulled 
down, 3 — an arrangement later altered, as we shall see. 

The erection of the new theater, coupled, apparently, with 
continued disorders at the other playhouses, aroused renewed 
opposition to theatrical performances. Impressed by the pro- 
tests, the Privy Council, on June 22, 1600, issued an order "for 
the restrainte of the imoderate use and Companye of Playe- 
howses and Players." "Whereas divers complaintes," the act 

1 Collier, Alleyn Memoirs, 55-56; Henslowe Papers, 49~5°- 

2 Collier, Alleyn Memoirs, 58; Henslowe Papers, 50-51. 

3 Collier, Alleyn Memoirs, 57; Henslowe Papers, 51-52. 


recites, "have bin heretofore made unto the Lordes and others 
of her Majesties Privye Counsell of the manyfolde abuses and 
disorders that have growen and do contynue by occasion of many 
houses erected and employed in and about the cittie of London 
for common stage-playes, and now verie latelie by reason of 
some complainte exhibited by sundry persons againste the buyld- 
inge of the like house in or near Golding-lane by one Edward 
Allen, a servant of the right honorable the Lord Admyrall," the 
whole question of theaters has again been taken up by the Lords. 
The purpose of the act and the attitude of the Council towards 
plays arc now clearly expressed. 

" Forasmuch as it is manifestly knowen and graunted that the multi- 
tude of the saide houses and the mys-government of them hath bin 
and is dayly occasion of the ydle, ryotous and dissolute living of great 
nombers of people, that, leavinge all such honest and painefull course 
of life as they should follow, doe meete and assemble there, and of 
many particular abuses and disorders that doe thereupon ensue; and 
yet, nevertheless, it is considered that the use and exercise of such 
playes, not beinge evill in ytself, may with a good order and modera- ( 
cion be suffered in a well-governed state, and that her Majestie, beinge 
pleased at somtymes to take delight and recreation in the sight and * 
hearinge of them, some order is fitt to be taken for the allowance and 
mayntenaunce of such persons as are thought meetest in that kinde 
to yealde her Majestie recreation and delighte, and consequently of 
the houses that must serve for publike playinge to keepe them in 
exercise. To the ende, therefore, that both the greate abuses of the 
playes and playinge-houses may be redressed, and yet the aforesaide 
use and moderation of them retayned, the Lordes and the rest of her 
Majesties Privie Counsell, with one and full consent, have ordered j 
in manner and forme as followeth." 

The rules laid down are very definite. First, as to the num- 
ber of playhouses, — there shall be only two "to serve for the 
use of the common stage-playes," one to be on the Bankside, 
the other in Middlesex. Since the Fortune, as Tilney has in- 
formed the Lords, is to take the place of the Curtain — not of the ■ 
Rose, as was first announced — Alleyn's new theater is the one 
authorized in Middlesex, and is to be occupied by the Lord 
Admiral's company. The Curtain is to be destroyed. On the 
Surrey side, the Council has permitted the Lord Chamberlain's 
company to choose a playhouse, and it has selected the Globe. 



Apart from these two no theaters are to be allowed ; nor shall 
there be any more performances in "any common inne for pub- y 
lique assembly in or neare aboute the Cittie." /* 

Secondly, "forasmuch as these stage-plaies, by the multitude 
of houses and the company of players, have bin so frequent, 
not servinge for recreation but invitinge and callinge the people 
dayly from their trade and worke to myspend their tyme," it 
is ordered that these two privileged companies shall perform only 
twice each week, never on the Sabbath, or in Lent, or in time of 
"extraordinary sickness" in or about the city. 

Thirdly, to secure the strict enforcement of these rules, it is 
ordered that copies be sent to the Lord Mayor and to the Jus- 
tices of the Peace of Middlesex and Surrey, together with letters 
urging them to carry out the laws, imprison any who violate them, 
and report their proceedings to the Privy Council from time to 
time. 1 A copy of this urgent request follows in the Council 
Register. 2 

It seems almost useless to rehearse these orders here at such 
length, for their enforcement was evidently lax and irregular in 
the extreme, — if indeed they were ever enforced at all. The 
Lords themselves seem to have had little desire for the rigor- 
ous carrying out of these commands. Indeed, they apparently 
soon forgot all about them; for when, in May, 1601, complaints 
were made of the offensive play at the Curtain, and the Privy 
Council ordered the Middlesex Justices to censor it, the exis- 
tence and activity of this theater seems not to have disturbed 
them in the least, and they made no allusion to the fact that 
some ten months before they had directed that it be demol- 
ished. 3 

But the existence of the regulations was soon recalled to their 
minds. The municipal and shire officials had apparently been 
as forgetful as the Lords, and the continued abuses gave rise 
to fresh complaints. In December, 1601, the Lord Mayor 
again protested to the Privy Council against the playhouses. 

1 The order is printed at length in Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 466-468, 
and in Acts, XXX, 395-398. 

2 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 468-469; Acts, XXX, 411. 
* See above, p. 100. 


Thus reminded that the fault was not theirs, the Lords, in a burst 
of righteous indignation, replied sternly to the Mayor. The 
sarcasm of the opening sentence suggests that the writer felt 
satisfaction in being able to retort in such wise to the Puritan 


"Wee have receaved a letter from you renewing a complaint of the 
great abuse and disorder within and about the cittie of London by 
reason of the multitude of play-howses and the inordinate resort and 
concourse of dissolute and idle people daielie unto publique stage 
plaies, for the which information as wee do commende your Lordship 
because it betokeneth your care and desire to reforme the disorders of 
the cittie, so wee must lett you know that wee did muche rather ex- 
pect to understand that our order (sett downe and prescribed about 
a yeare and a half since for the reformation of the said disorders upon 
the like complaint at that tyme) had bin duelie executed, then to finde 
the same disorders and abuses so muche encreased as they are, the 
blame whereof, as we cannot but impute in great part to the Justices 
of the Peace of Middlesex and Surrey ... so wee do wishe that it 
might appeare unto us that anythinge hath bin endeavoured by the 
predecessours of you, the Lord Maiour, and by you, the Aldermen, 
for the redresse of the said enormities and for observation and execu- 
tion of our said order within the cittie." 

The enforcement of the rule is again urged. Violators are to 
be put on bond or imprisoned. "And so praying yow," con- 
clude the Lords, "as yourself do make the complaint and finde 
the enormitie, so to applie your best endeavour to the remedie 
of the abuse." * 

On the same day, December 31, 1601, the Council sent a 
letter to the Justices of Middlesex and Surrey, severely censuring 
them for their negligence. "It is in vaine for us to take knowl- 
edg of great abuses and disorders complayncd of and to give 
order for redresse, if our directions finde no better execution and 
observation than it seemeth they do, and wee must needes im- 
pute the fault and blame thereof to you or some of you, the Jus- 
tices of the Peace." They summarize their order of a year and 
a half since, and vigorously describe the lack of enforcement. 
"Wee do now understande that our said order hath bin so farr 
from takinge dew effect, as, in steede of restrainte and redresse 

l Ads, XXXII, 468-469; Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 469-47°- 


of the former disorders, the multitude of play howses is much 
encreased, and that no daie passeth over without many stage 
plaies in one place or other within and about the cittie publiquelie 
made." The Justices, the Lords assert, have not reported on 
this matter, as they were ordered to do. They are now com- 
manded to mend their ways. 1 

Apparently the exhortations of the Lords had little or no effect. 
That the Privy Council itself felt by no means bound to observe 
its own rules, and soon relapsed from its stern attitude, is shown 

— if proof be needed — by a letter which it sent to the Lord 
Mayor a few months later. On March 31, 1602, in violation of 
its own rule against performances in inn yards, the Council bade 
the Mayor allow the servants of the Earl of Worcester and 
the Earl of Oxford to play at the Boar's Head in Eastcheap. 2 
According to Mr. Fleay's estimate, in spite of the restrictive 
measures eight playing places were open in and about London 
in 1602. 3 

The almost absurd laxness in carrying out these restrictions 
> of 1600 is puzzling in part. From the Council's letter it would 
V/dppear that even the city authorities had not endeavored to sup- 
press unlawful plays. Why the Puritan opposition was thus 
relaxed — if it was — is not clear. Mr. Fleav's comment on 
the affair is that the ruling motive was not Puritan on the city 
side, but an "obstinate determination to assert their privileges," 

— leading the municipal authorities to suppress playing places 
whenever the Court wanted them open, and to allow freedom 
to them all when the Court wished to give a "monopoly to the 
favored companies. 4 This is not convincing. Of course, the 
opposition on the city side was, as we have observed, not exr 
clusively and merely Puritan in motive; but an "obstinate 
determination to assert their privileges" does not seem to de- 
scribe their attitude. By this time they must have been pretty 
well hardened to the interference and encroachments of the royal 
government, which, as we have seen, had been almost continual 
for a quarter of a century. Their communications to the Privy 
Council seem to admit freely the right of the Lords to regulate 

1 Acts, XXXII, 466-468; Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 470-471. 

2 Rcmembrancia, 355. 3 London Stage, 161. * Ibid. 


the drama in and about London, and to entreat merely that these 
regulations may be restrictive enough to protect the City from 
the abuses of the theaters. The laxness of the municipality 
at this particular time — if indeed it was lenient to the playing 
places within London — may have been due to a variety of 
causes. Perhaps the Lord Mayor in office for the year 1600- 
1601 was not of Puritan inclinations, but personally in favor 
of the stage. Or he may have been merely lax and careless. 
Or the players may have brought all sorts of powerful influences 
to bear. Probably the immense public demand for plays at 
this time, forcibly described in the Council Order of 1600, was 
so intense that the general public opinion tended to prevent the 
enforcement of the restrictions. Moreover and finally, there 
seems to have been at this period, one might almost say, a 
presumption in favor of the non-enforcement of any given 

There is another puzzling question in connection with the 
restrictive order of 1600. Was it intended to apply to the chil- 
dren's companies, or were they, as well as the two privileged 
men's companies, expected to perform? Were their playing 
places not considered as serving "for the use of the common 
stage-playes"? The Paul's Boys in their singing-school, and 
the Children of the Chapel in the new Blackfriars theater, seem 
to have acted undisturbed during this period of agitation; but 
whether this was due to their special exemption, or merely to 
the general non-enforcement of the law, is not clear. They are 
not mentioned in the orders and complaints which we have 
been considering. On March 11, 1601, however, when the 
Privy Council wrote to the Lord Mayor requiring him not to 
fail in suppressing plays during Lent within the City and the 
liberties thereof, they added "especyally at Powles and in the 
Blackfriars." 1 This indicates that the children's companies 
were performing as usual, and that the regulation of them was 
attended to at times. We know, indeed, from other sources, 
that they were especially successful during these years. The 
whole question of the status of these companies, which this 
brings up, is decidedly puzzling, and there seems to be, as yet, 

1 Acts, XXXI, 218. 


very little available material throwing light on it. I would 
conjecture that these two companies were, in the eyes of the law, 
on a footing considerably different from that of the other players. 
Probably they were not technically regarded as professional 
actors, since their real profession was supposed to be choral 
singing. By virtue of their connection with the church, as 
choristers of St. Paul's and of the Royal Chapel; or because 
of their inclusion in the royal service ; or on the strength of the 
royal patents authorizing the Masters to take up boys for choral 
purposes ; or for all these reasons, — they were probably tacitly 
allowed special privileges and a status peculiarly their own. 
The laws restricting the number of "common players" and 
common playing places would therefore probably not apply to 
them. But the Lenten and Sunday regulations would be es- 
pecially appropriate in their case, and the plague restriction, 
so essential for the welfare of the community, was probably 
also expected to be obeyed by them. Under James, as we have 
seen, the children were given regular patents for playing, and 
seem to have been placed on much the same footing as the other 
actors. Finally, in 1626, the patent to Giles forbade the use of 
the Chapel Children for dramatic purposes. 1 

On March 19, 1603, five days before the death of Elizabeth, 
the Privy Council ordered the Mayor and the Justices of Middle- 
sex and Surrey to suppress all plays until further notice. 2 
Whether this was because of Lent, of the plague, or of the Queen's 
illness does not appear. But plays evidently began again 
within less than six weeks after Elizabeth's death. We learn 
from Henslowe's Diary that the performances were stopped on 
May 5, "at the King's coming," two days before James' arrival 
in London, and resumed "by the King's license" on May g. 3 

With the end of Elizabeth's reign we have reached the prac- 
tical conclusion of the struggle between the municipal and the 
royal governments over plays. On the whole, the City met 
defeat. Though performances in the inn yards within the 
municipal jurisdiction seem now to have ceased, the obnoxious 
theaters in the Liberties continued to flourish undisturbed. All 

1 See above, pp. 37-38. 

2 Acts, XXXII, 492. ' Henslowe's Diary, 174, 190. 


regulation of the drama was now organized under the system of 
royal patents and the administration of the Master of the Revels, 
— both of which we have already considered. The monopoly 
of playing in and about London granted by the royal patents had 
grown naturally out of the exclusive privileges awarded to the 
favored companies under Elizabeth. But whereas, during the 
later years of the Queen's reign, there had been some attempt 
to restrict the number of the men's companies to two, under 
James and Charles at least four or five were generally privileged 
to perform. The playing places authorized for the favored 
actors were specified in the patents; the Master of the Revels 
was intrusted with the regulation of performances; and there 
resulted at least the appearance, and to a considerable extent 
the practice, of greater regularity and consistency in the enforce- 
ment of the rules. 

In the face of this system of royal regulation and authoriza- 
tion, the city government subsided. 1 It was, indeed, practically 
helpless. The fixed theaters were, until 1608, all outside the 
Mayor's jurisdiction, 2 and for the most part specially licensed 
by the Crown. Even when Blackfriars and Whitefriars came 
under the municipal authority, the players were effectually shel- 
tered by the royal protection. But, on the whole, the state of the 
City was not so bad as it might have been. The obnoxious per- 
formances in inn yards were apparently now given up, and, 
with the improvement which seems to have taken place in the 
class of spectators who attended the theaters, disorders resulted 
much less frequently. There are, indeed, indications that the 
hostility towards plays hitherto felt by the municipal officials 
and the upper classes of the citizens had now somewhat dimin- 
ished, and that the city government was no longer so intensely 
eager to banish all actors. But the Puritan antipathy to the 
drama, though it found for the time no expression in municipal 

1 In December, 1625, there was a slight recurrence of the old dispute. The 
Mayor and the Aldermen imputed the recent plague to the assemblages at the 
theaters, and requested the entire suppression of such performances, — appar- 
ently without result. See Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 438. 

2 The later playhouses, the Cockpit, in Drury Lane, and the Red Bull, in 
Clerkenwell, were also beyond reach of the city officials. 


legislation, remained deep and bitter, spreading through many 
classes of society and awaiting its chance for a decisive blow. 

Though the victory of the City in the long controversy that 
we have been tracing would have seriously hindered the develop- 
ment of the drama, it is impossible to follow the dispute in detail 
without sympathizing with the municipality. There seems to 
have been much justification for their complaints against the 
theaters, which certainly in many cases fomented disorder and 
crime. And the invasion by the Crown of their rights of local 
self-government must sometimes have been exasperating in the 
extreme. That they should have been forced, merely in order 
to give the court players a chance to practise for the better 
diversion of the Queen, to tolerate performances which they 
sincerely regarded as highly dangerous in spreading the plague 
and gravely injurious to the morals and good order of the com- 
munity, seems an act of tyranny which might well arouse a 
spirit of rebellion. But we must be careful not to read into 
their age the feelings of our own. With rare exceptions, at the 
mention of the Queen's name they seem to have bowed in loyal 

The chapters on the Master of the Revels and the censorship 
have covered most of the history of theatrical regulation in 
London during the years 1 603-1642, when the crown officials 
were in charge. There remain to be considered only a few 
cases of royal and municipal legislation affecting the London 
stage. Most of these center about the famous precinct of Black- 
friars, which, as we have seen, came under the municipal juris- 
diction in 1608. The City made no move, for the present, 
against the King's company, which now began to occupy Bur- 
bagc's playhouse; but in 1615, when the construction of a sec- 
ond theater in that precinct was begun, the municipality protested. 

The case is a puzzling one. On May 31, 161 5, a Privy Seal 
was apparently issued, directing a patent under the Great Seal 
to Philip Rosseter and others. This recites the grant of Rosse- 
ter's patent of January 4, 1610, for the Children of the Queen's 
Revels, who have been performing in Whitefriars, and it au- 
thorizes him to construct a new playhouse in Blackfriars, on 
land which he has leased for that purpose, — " all w cb premisses 


are scittuat and being w"'in the precinct of the Blackfryers neere 
Puddlewharfe, in the Subburbes of London, called by the name 
of the Ladie Saunders house, or otherwise Porters Hall, and 
nowe in the occupac'on of the said Robert Jones." The Revels 
Children, the Prince's company, and the Lady Elizabeth's are 
authorized to perform in this theater. 1 

Upon the grant of this patent Rosseter began to construct 
his playhouse. Whereupon the Mayor and the Aldermen, as 
we learn from an order of the Privy Council, complained to 
the Lords that he had pulled down "Lady Sanders" house, at 
Puddle-wharf, in the precinct of Blackfriars, and was building 
a theater there, to the great prejudice and inconvenience of the 
government of the City. The Privy Council sent for Rosseter, 
and had his letters patent inspected by the Lord Chief Justice. 
As a result of their deliberations, because of the inconveniences 
urged by the Mayor, and especially the fact that the nearness of 
the proposed playhouse to a church would cause interruption 
of Divine Service on week-days, "and that the Lord Chief Jus- 
tice did deliver to their Lordships that the license granted to 
the said Rosseter, did extend to the building of a playhouse 
without the liberties of London and not within the City," the 
Council ordered, on September 26, 1615, that there should be 
no theater constructed in that place. They bade the Mayor 
stop Rosseter and his workmen, and imprison them should they 
prove disobedient. 2 

Since Rosseter's patent, as we have it, expressly authorizes 
him, in the passage that I have quoted, to construct the theater 
on the very plot where he was building, the decision of the Chief 
Justice and of the Council is puzzling. Mr. Fleay suggests 
that the existing patent is a Collier forgery. 3 This may possibly 
be the case, though no motive for a forgery is here evident. But 
the apparent contradiction can, I think, be explained in another 
way. The Lord Chief Justice who rendered the decision was 
the famous Coke, removed from office about a year afterwards 

1 The patent is printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 46-48, and in Collier, 
English Dramatic Poetry, I, 381-382. 

2 The order is printed in full in 1821 Variorum, III, 493-494, note. 
5 London Stage, 263-264. 


for opposing the royal and ecclesiastical prerogatives, and later 
a leader of the popular party in Parliament, where he vigorously 
fought against monopolies and other royal tyrannies. It may 
be that on this occasion he sympathized with the protest of the 
City against the invasion of their jurisdiction, and took advan- 
tage of a technical flaw in the phrasing of the patent, to decide 
against Rosseter. The authorization, as I have quoted it, speci- 
fies Lady Saunder's house in Blackfriars, but mentions it as 
situated "in the Subburbes of London" whereas Blackfriars 
was now actually within the City. This irregularity might 
justify Coke in saying that the license authorized a playhouse 
"without the liberties of London and not within the City." It 
will be noticed that the patent granted four years later to the 
King's company is careful to specify Blackfriars as "within 
our City of London." 

Moreover, there is evidence that the King himself regretted 
the issue of the patent, and was not unwilling to have the Privy 
Council declare it void. For when Rosseter obstinately per- 
sisted in completing the theater, the Lords, on January 26, 1616 
or 161 7/ sent the following order to the Mayor. 

"Whereas his Majesty is informed that notwithstanding divers 
commandments and prohibitions to the contrary, there be certain 
persons that go about to set up a playhouse in the Blackfryars, near 
unto his Majesty's Wardrobe, and for that purpose have lately erected 
and made fit a building which is almost if not fully finished: You 
shall understand that his Majesty hath this day expressly signified 
his pleasure, that the same shall be pulled down; so as it be made 
unfit for any such use. Whereof we require your Lordship to take 
notice, and to cause it to be performed with all speed, and thereupon 
to certify us of your proceedings." 3 

This seems to refer to Rosseter's house. Perhaps it had been 
decided that a theater so "near unto his Majesty's Wardrobe" 
would be inconvenient. Or influence of some other kind may 
have been brought to bear upon the King to make him practically 
annul his grant. 

1 Chalmers dates it 1616-1617. {1821 Variorum, III, 494, note.) Fleay 
thinks it was probably 1616. {London Stage, 264.) The later date certainly 
makes a very long interval elapse. 

2 1S21 Variorum, III, 494, note. 


In spite of all the opposition, Rosseter's theater seems to have 
been open for a few performances at least. The title-page of 
Field's Amends for Ladies, printed in 1618, states that it was 
"acted at the Blacke-Fryers, both by the Princes Servants, and 
the Lady Elizabeths." 1 As these were two of the companies 
for which the new playhouse was intended, it seems likely that 
the comedy was performed there. 

A few years later the inhabitants of Blackfriars, perhaps en- 
couraged by the fate of Rosseter's theater, determined to make 
an effort to free themselves from the inconveniences caused by 
Burbage's playhouse, long established in their precinct and now 
occupied by the King's company. The royal patent held by 
these players specified only the Globe as their authorized theater 
and gave them no explicit right to perform in Blackfriars. Their 
position therefore seemed open to attack. As the precinct was 
now within the jurisdiction of the City, the residents appealed, 
not to the Privy Council, as in 1596, but to the Mayor and the 
Aldermen. About January, 1619, the minister, the church- 
wardens, the sidesmen, the constables, the collectors, and the 
scavengers of the precinct addressed a petition to the municipal 
authorities, begging for the suppression of Burbage's playhouse 
and rehearsing the inconveniences caused thereby. 2 A letter 
supporting this petition was also submitted to the Mayor and 
the Aldermen signed by "divers honorable persons, inhabiting 
the precinct of Blackfriars." 3 

As a result, the city authorities issued, on January 21, 1619, 
an order for the suppression of the theater. This recites part of 
the history of the playhouse, as I have quoted above, and en- 
deavors to make it appear that the performances there are in 
defiance of the orders of the Privy Council. 4 It also summarizes 
the complaints of the petitioners. This passage gives an inter- 
esting glimpse of conditions surrounding performances in the 
famous theater. It should be compared with the petition of 
1596, setting forth the evils which the residents feared would 
result from the establishment of the playhouse, — especially the 

1 Hazlitt's Dodsley, XI, 88. * Remembrancia, 355. 

3 Ibid., 356. * See above, p. 186. 


influx of tramps and rascals. 1 In contrast to this, it is now the 
great press of coaches from which they suffer. Apparently the 
Blackfriars theater was attracting an audience greatly superior 
in social status to what the precinct had anticipated. 

"There is daily," the order recites, "so great resort of people, and soe 
great multitude of coaches, whereof many are hackney coaches bringing 
people of all sortes that sometimes all their streetes cannot conteyne 
them, that they endanger one the other, breake downe stalles, throw 
downe mens goodes from their shopps, hinder the passage of the in- 
habitantes there to and from their howses, lett the bringing in of their 
necessary provisions, that the tradesmen and shoppkeepers cannot 
utter their wares, nor the passengers goe to the common water staires 
without danger of their lives and lyms, whereby manye times quar- 
rells and effusion of blood hath followed, and the minister and people 
disturbed at the administracion of the Sacrament of Baptimse and 
publique prayers in the afternoones." 

The Corporation of London therefore orders that the theater 
shall be suppressed and "the players shall from henceforth for- 
bear and desist from playing in that house." 2 

But the King's company was too powerful to be in danger 
from the municipal authorities. Some effort to enforce the 
order of suppression was probably made ; and the King came to 
the rescue of his servants. On March 27, about two months 
after the passage of the ordinance, a new royal patent was issued 
to these players, expressly authorizing them to perform, not only 
at the Globe, but also — without any flaw in the phrasing — 
in "their private House scituate in the precincts of the Black- 
friers within our Citty of London." 3 In the face of such royal 
authorization the precinct and the municipal government were 
helpless. The opposition to the playhouse subsided for a time. 

In later years there were revivals of the Blackfriars agitation, 
interesting chiefly as showing the necessity, even at this early 
day, of traffic regulations in London. During 163 1 the church- 
wardens and the constables of the precinct petitioned Laud, 

1 See above, p. 185. 

2 The order is printed at length in Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 474-475. 
1 See above, p. 38, and Appendix. 


then Bishop of London, for a revival of previous orders made 
for the removal of the playhouse. 1 They repeat the same com- 
plaints about the great numbers of coaches which were advanced 
in 1619. This appeal through ecclesiastical channels was 
apparently unsuccessful. Bishop Laud indorsed the petition 
"To the Council Table"; but the Privy Council seems to have 
taken no action on it. The agitation was resumed two years 
later with slightly more effect. The Lords appointed a Commis- 
sion, including some of the Justices of Middlesex and the Alder- 
man of the Ward, to investigate the question of the removal of 
the Blackfriars theater and decide on what recompense should 
be made to the players. 2 On November 20, 1633, the Com- 
mission reported that no agreement could be reached on the 
amount of the indemnity. The players demanded £21,000, 
the Commissioners valued it at near £3000, and the parishioners 
offered towards the removal of the theater £ioo. 3 

Apparently giving up this plan in despair, and endeavoring 
to remedy the evil in another way, the Privy Council, two days 
later, issued orders stringently regulating traffic to and from 
the Blackfriars playhouse. No coaches were to be allowed to 
come nearer the theater than "the farther side of St. Paul's 
Churchyard on the one side, and Fleet Conduit on the other." 
The Mayor was directed to enforce this regulation. 4 Apparently 
the new rule was distasteful to the players and their audiences, 
and at a council meeting on December 29 it was materially 
modified. "As many coaches as may stand within the Black- 
friars gate" were now to be allowed to enter and stay there, or 
return thither at the end of the play. 5 As the King was present 
at this council meeting, it has been conjectured that he interceded 
on behalf of his players. 6 A letter from Garrard to Lord Deputy 
Went worth, written on January 9, 1634, remarks on the new 
regulation and the audience's having to "trot afoot to find their 

1 The petition is printed at length in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 
455—457. There is an abstract in State Papers, Dom., 1631-1633, 219-221. 

2 Collier, op. cit., I, 476-477, note; State Papers, Dom., 1633-1634, 266. 

3 Stale Papers, Dom., 1633-1634, 293. 

* Collier, op. cit., I, 478-479; Remembrancia, 356, 357; Slate Papers, Dom., 
^33-1634, 293. 

s Collier, op. cit., I, 479. ■ Ibid. 


coaches." "'Twas kept very strictly for two or three weeks," 
he writes, "but now I think it is disordered again." ' 

All audiences were not of such dignity as those that attended 
the Blackfriars theater, and at times the authorities still had to 
be on their guard against disorder. On May 25, 1626, for exam- 
ple, the Privy Council directed the Justices of Surrey to take 
precautions against riot at the Globe. "We are informed," 
write the Lords, "that on Thursday next divers loose and idle 
persons, some sailors and others, have appointed to meete at 
the Play-house called the Globe, to see a play (as is pretended), 
but their end is thereby to disguise some routous and riotous 
action." The Justices are therefore commanded to permit no 
performance on that day, and also to "have that strength about 
you as you shall think sufficient for the suppressing of any in- 
solencies, or other mutinous intentions." 2 

In the stage history of the period there are a few other cases 
to be considered, connected with the authorization, or proposed 
authorization, of playhouses about London. There were several 
ineffectual attempts to secure permission for a theater in Lin- 
coln's Inn Fields. Some time in James' reign the Prince's 
company sought a license for such a playhouse ; but eleven 
Justices of the Peace certified that the place was inconvenient. 3 
In 1620 John Cotton, John Williams, and Thomas Dixon were 
slightly more successful. King James issued orders for a patent 
granting them permission to erect an amphitheater in Lincoln's 
Inn Fields ; but finding that some of the clauses seemed to give 
them greater liberty, "both in the point of building and using 
of exercises," than was intended, he stayed the grant at the Privy 
Seal, and ordered its terms modified. 4 Apparently in conse- 
quence of this difficulty, the writ was never issued. In Charles' 
reign Williams and Cotton again sought a patent. After some 

'Strafford Letters, I, 175, quoted in Wheatley and Cunningham, London 
Past and Present, I, 200. 

2 Extract from the Council Register, printed in Collier, English Dramatic 
Poetry, I, 445-446, note. 

8 See the Lord Chancellor's letter of September 28, 1626, printed in Collier, 
op. cit., I, 444-445- 

4 See James' letter to the Privy Council, September 29, 1620, printed in 
Collier, op. cit., I, 407-408, and Hazlitt, English Drama, 56-57. 


consideration the Lord Chancellor, on September 28, 1626, 
reported against the proposed grant. It was, he declared, 
different from that suggested in 1620, which provided for a 
theater that was to be principally for martial exercises and 
"extraordinary shows and solemnities," whereas this proposed 
house would probably be devoted only to common plays and 
sports. Moreover, the monopoly awarded in the power to 
restrain all other shows on one day in the week was much more 
extensive than that formerly suggested. In view of these argu- 
ments and of the fact that there were already too many buildings 
in Lincoln's Inn Fields, the Lord Chancellor advised against the 
patent, which was evidently never issued. 1 

The French comedians who visited London in 1635 were 
apparently more successful in carrying out plans for a theater. 
They performed for some time at the Cockpit, in Drury Lane, and 
then secured a royal warrant authorizing them to construct 
another theater in the same street, — or rather to adapt for that 
purpose an existing building. The following note in a manu- 
script book in the Lord Chamberlain's records informs us of 

"18 April 1635: His Majesty hath commanded me to signify his 
royal pleasure, that the French comedians (having agreed with Mon- 
sieur le Febure) may erect a stage, scaffolds, and seats, and all other 
accommodations, which shall be convenient, and act and present in- 
terludes and stage plays, at his house, in Drury Lane, during his 
Majesty's pleasure, without any disturbance, hindrance, or interrup- 
tion. And this shall be to them, and M. le Febure, and to all others, 
a sufficient discharge, &c." 2 

Sir Henry Herbert's Office Book gives us further information 
on the subject. On May 5, 1635, he records the grant of the 
foregoing warrant to Josias d'Aunay, Hurfries de Lau, and others, 
to "builde a playhouse in the manage-house." This, says Her- 
bert, "was done accordinglye by my advise and allowance." 

One other authorization of a proposed theater remains to be 
noted. On March 26, 1639, D'Avenant obtained a patent under 

1 See the Chancellor's letter, printed in Collier, op. cit., I, 444-445. 

7 Chalmers, Apology, 506-507, note. ' 1S21 Variorum, III, 122, note. 


the Great Seal, permitting him to construct a theater within the 
City of London, upon a plot of ground adjoining the Three Kings 
Ordinary in Fleet Street, already allotted to him, or upon any 
other which may be assigned by the Commissioners for Build- 
ing; and on certain conditions to give performances therein. 1 
In an indenture dated October 2, 1639, D'Avenant declares that 
the site in Fleet Street has been found inconvenient and unfit, 
and pledges himself not to build on any other plot without further 
authorization. 2 Just why the plan for this theater was given 
up is not apparent. D'Avenant's appointment, on June 27, 
1640, to take charge of the Cockpit, perhaps prevented his 
further search for a site for a new playhouse. 3 

In concluding this account of governmental regulations deal- 
ing with the London stage, it seems useful to summarize some 
of the chief lines of legislation, — apart from the main system 
of licensing and censorship which we have considered in previous 
chapters. These minor features have been touched on from time 
to time in the course of the present section and the preceding 
one, but may now be assembled in clearer order. 

A notable custom prevailing to a considerable extent during 
Elizabeth's reign was the taxation of the players for the benefit 
of the sick and the poor. Probably such contributions were 
first offered by the actors, as an inducement to the local officials 
to permit them to perform. In the letter written by the London 
government to the Lord Chamberlain on March 2, 1574, disap- 
proving of the proposal of a licensing patent empowering the 
patentee to authorize playing places in the City, the municipal 
officials remark that similar requests have been made before, and 
that the petitioners have offered in return large contributions 
"for the relief of the poor in hospitals." 4 Probably the players 
had already made such payments; for in the city ordinance of 
December 6, 1574, provision is made that all owners of licensed 
playing places shall contribute regularly for the use of the poor in 

1 1821 Variorum, III, 93-95. See above, p. 43. 

2 Ibid., 520-522, note; Collier, op. cit., II, 28-29. 

3 Chalmers, Apology, 519, note. 

* Hazlitt, English Drama, 23-24. See above, p. 154. 


hospitals, or of the poor of the City visited with sickness, such 
sums as may be agreed upon by the Mayor and the Aldermen 
on the one part, and the licensed householder on the other. All 
fines and forfeitures collected for offenses against this act arc to 
be devoted to the same purpose. 1 

The practice seems to have continued to some extent through- 
out the sixteenth century. In 1594 the Lord Chamberlain's 
company, seeking permission to play at the Cross Keys, offered 
to contribute to the parish poor. 2 In 1600 such payments from 
the Bankside theaters were ordered by the Archbishop of Can- 
terbury, the Bishop of London, and the Master of the Revels, as 
we learn from the entry in the Parish Register of St. Saviour's 
referring to the "tithes of the playhouses" to be paid by the 
players and "money for the poor." 3 Finally, in the same year, 
when seeking the approval of the residents of Finsbury for the 
erection of the new Fortune theater, the managers offered to con- 
tribute liberally to the parish poor. 4 I have found no further 
references to this practice in and about London. Probably 
when the players and the playing places were authorized by royal 
warrant, and there was no longer any necessity of placating the 
local officials and residents, the custom died out. 5 

There is visible during this period only a slight germ of the 
modern building and fire laws which apply particularly to 
theaters. The municipal authorities frequently refer to the 
danger to the audience caused by weak buildings and scaffolds. 
In the city ordinance of December 6, 1574, there is a provision 
requiring that the playing places must be approved and licensed 
by the Mayor and the Aldermen, and the owner put on bond. 6 
It was perhaps intended that the construction of the temporary 
scaffoldings and stages should be inspected and passed upon. 
But there is no indication that such supervision was regularly 

There was some attempt to regulate the hours of performances. 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, 30. See above, p. 158. 2 See above, p. 182-183. 

3 Chalmers, Apology, 405. See above, p. 60. 

* Henslowe Papers, 50-51. See above, p. 190. 

1 The Long Parliament adopted a modification of it. See below, p. 226. 

8 Hazlitt, English Drama, 29. See above, pp. 157-158. 


In the earliest enactments of this kind the players were forbidden 
to act during the time of Divine Service on Sundays and Holy 
Days, — as in the royal patent to Leicester's company in 1574 
and the municipal ordinance of December in the same year. 1 
In 1582, when the Privy Council suggested that performances 
should be allowed after Evening Prayer on Holy Days, the 
Mayor objected to the rule, protesting that it would delay the 
action of the plays to a very inconvenient time of night, espe- 
cially for servants and children. 2 The regulation seems to have 
been established, nevertheless; but the dangers involved in the 
audience's returning to their homes after dark continued to dis- 
turb the municipal authorities. In the "Remedies" which they 
proposed in 1584, they included the rule, "That no playeng be on 
holydaies, but after evening prayer, nor any received into the 
auditorie till after evening prayer"; and they added, "That no 
playeng be in the dark, nor continue any such time but as any 
of the auditorie may returne to their dwellings in London before 
sonne set, or at least before it be dark." 3 To avoid the danger 
involved in such late performances, the Lord Chamberlain's 
company offered as an inducement to the City, in the autumn 
of 1594, that they would begin at two o'clock and finish between 
four and five, instead of commencing at four, as heretofore. 4 

In the traveling license issued to Lord Strange's company in 
1593, they are forbidden to act during the "accustomed times of 
Divine Prayers"; 5 but this provision was not included in the 
royal patents issued by the Stuarts. To what extent, if at all, 
the regulation continued, I have not been able to ascertain. 
There were certainly performances during Divine Service on 
some occasions. Among the objections against Rosseter's 
Blackfriars theater, in 16 15, is included the fact that it would 
disturb the congregation in the adjoining church during Divine 
Service upon week-days. 8 And in the order of 1619, suppress- 
ing Burbage's Blackfriars playhouse, mention is made of the 
disturbance caused by the coaches to the minister and people at 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, 26, 29-30. See above, pp. 34, 158. 
' Remembrancia, 351. See above, p. 165. 3 See above, p. 174. 

♦See above, p. 182. 5 Acts, XXIV, 212. See above, p. 34- 

• 1S21 Variorum, III, 493-494, note. See above, p. 199. 


public prayers in the afternoon. 1 The inhabitants of the pre- 
cinct, in their petition for relief, had complained that the crush 
of vehicles inconvenienced them almost daily in winter time, 
not excepting Lent, from one or two o'clock till five at night. 2 
What further attempt, if any, was made to regulate the hours 
of performances does not appear. 

Throughout our period there was almost continual agitation 
about performances on Sunday. As early as 1543 we have 
observed an apparent objection to some sorts of shows on that 
day ; s but in general Sunday was, during the earlier part of 
Elizabeth's reign, the day especially selected for performances. 
The municipal ordinance of December, 1574, remarks that plays 
are "chiefly used" on Sundays and Holy Days, 4 and merely for- 
bids their presentation during the time of Divine Service. Gos- 
son, in his Schoole of Abuse, published in 1579, notes that the 
players, because they are allowed to act every Sunday, " make 
four or five Sundays, at least, every week"; 5 and the Puritan 
denunciations of the usual Sunday performances are frequent at 
this early period. 6 The rise of this strong disapproval soon pro- 
duced orders forbidding plays on Sunday. On December 3, 
1 58 1, when the Privy Council asked the Mayor to admit certain 
companies to the City, they required that the players be not 
allowed to perform on the " Sabbath Day," — a term which shows 
the spread of Puritan ideas. 7 Sometime during this same year 
or earlier, the Lord Mayor had evidently issued orders against 
Sunday performances, as we find from a letter written by one 
Henry Berkley "respecting some of his men committed to prison 
for playing on the Sabbath Day, contrary to the Lord Mayor's 
orders, which were unknown to them." 8 In 1582, again, the 
Lords suggest that the privileged companies be restrained from 
playing on Sunday. 9 Of course the rule was not rigidly and 

1 Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 475. See above, p. 202. 

J Remembrancia, 355. 3 See above, p. 151-152. 

4 Hazlitt, English Drama, 27. See above, p. 157. 

1 Published by the Shakspere Society, II, 31. 

•See, for example, the title-page of Northbrooke's Treatise (1577); Stock- 
wood's Sermon of 1578, cited in Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 348; and the 
citations in 1821 Variorum, III, 145-146, note. 

7 Acts, XIII, 269. 8 Abstract in Athenceum, January 23, 1869. 

• Acts, XIII, 404. See above, p. 164. 


consistently enforced. The Paris Garden disaster, in January, 
1583, occurred at a Sunday performance, and led to renewed 
edicts from Privy Council and Mayor against such profana- 
tion of the Sabbath. 1 Even the favored Queen's company, 
according to the Lords' order of December 1, 1583, was not 
to be allowed to perform on that day. 2 The "Remedies" pro- 
posed by the city in 1584 of course included a law against 
acting on Sunday. 3 Complaints of the non-enforcement of the 
rule are rather frequent. The inhabitants of Southwark 
protested in 1587 against the Sabbath performances in the 
Liberty of the Clink, and the Privy Council exhorted the 
Justices of Middlesex and Surrey to prevent such occurrences. 4 
In 1 59 1 the Lords called the attention of the Mayor to the neglect 
of their order against "plays on the Sabbath Day." 5 Their 
restrictive regulations of 1600 included the same rule. 8 

In reviewing the history of national regulation under the 
Stuarts, we have already considered the royal proclamations and 
the statutes which from 1603 on forbade Sunday plays. 7 The 
law was not rigidly enforced, any more than the others that we 
have investigated; and the Puritan complaints of its violation, 
from Pyrnne and others, are fairly frequent. 8 The royal patents 
apparently contain no provision about Sunday performances. 
It is notable that the "Letters of Assistance" granted in 1618 
by the Privy Council to John Daniel for his provincial children's 
company provides that they may play, "the tymes of Devine 
Service on the Saboth daies only excepted," 9 — seeming to 
imply that they may perform at the other hours on Sunday. 

The rule against performances in Lent was apparently enacted 
rather early. It is not included in the London ordinance of 
1574. But on March 13, 1579, the Privy Council ordered the 
Mayor and the Middlesex Justices to stop all plays "during this 
time of Lent," and to notify the Lords what players had been 
performing since the beginning of the Lenten season. This 

1 See above, pp. 165-166. 2 See above, p. 168. 3 See above, p. 174. 

4 Acts, XV, 271. See above, p. 175. 

5 Acts, XXI, 324-325. See above, p. 177. 9 See above, p. 192. 

7 See above, pp. 20-21. 8 See Thompson, Puritans and Stage, 188. 

9 Hazlitt, English Drama, 50. 


would seem to imply that the actors had been violating an already 
existing law. The Council commanded also that this order "be 
observed hereafter yearly in the Lent time." l The rule was 
supposed to be in force, I imagine, during all the rest of the 
period. It was included in the restrictive regulations of June 22, 
1600. 2 Occasionally we find in the Council Register entries of 
orders to the magistrates to stop plays in the Lenten season, or to 
permit them, "Lent being past." 3 The players' breach of the 
law in 161 5 has already been noticed, and the practice inaugu- 
rated by the Master of the Revels, at least as early as 161 7, of 
selling dispensations for performances during the prohibited 
period. 4 The Lenten plays complained of by the inhabitants of 
Blackfriars in 1619, 5 were probably a result of the licenses pur- 
chased from Buc by the King's company. 

One of the most important series of regulations affecting the 
London stage dealt with performances in time of plague. The 
danger of infection caused by assemblages at plays was early 
recognized by the City and by the royal government. Bishop 
Grindal, in 1563, as we have seen, requested the suppression of 
the players for a year on this account. 6 In subsequent years we 
have observed frequent complaints of this danger and frequent 
prohibition of plays because of the great prevalence of the disease 
or the fear of its development in the hot season. There seems 
to have been at first no definite rule about the time of such sup- 
pression. When the plague increased to a considerable degree, 
or the summer promised to be a dangerous one, performances 
were sometimes ordered stopped entirely until autumn. Just 
when the first attempt was made to regulate this matter accord- 
ing to a definite system, to provide that plays should stop when 
the death-rate rose to a certain figure, does not clearly appear. 
The first suggestion of this sort that I have noted is the proposal 
apparently made by the Queen's company in 1584, — that plays 
in London should be allowed whenever the total number of 
deaths from the plague should fall as low as fifty a week. In their 
reply to this the city authorities discuss the "permission of plays 

1 Acts, XI, 73-74. 2 See above, p. 192. 

3 Acts, XXXI, 218; XXXII, s«. «See above, p. 75. 

6 See above, p. 209. • See above, p. 152. 


upon the fewness of those that die in any week" in a manner which 
seems to imply that the idea is a new one. On the whole they 
do not approve of it, and they point out that the report of deaths 
from the plague is not a reliable indication of the prevalence of the 
disease. If any such regulation must be adopted, they advocate 
a much more stringent one. The ordinary deaths in London, 
when there is no plague, amount weekly to "between forty and 
fifty and commonly under forty." Now the city officials pro- 
pose that when the total deaths in London from all diseases 
shall for two or three weeks together be under fifty per week, 
plays may be performed, and may continue so long as the mor- 
tality remains under that figure. 1 In the "Remedies" which 
they drew up at this time, they embodied this rule. 2 What 
specific regulation, if any, the Privy Council adopted as a result 
of this discussion, we do not know. Probably it was a compro- 
mise one. 

In 1593 a change was made in the plague reports. It had 
become apparent that the weekly certificate of the deaths from 
the disease within the City did not give sufficient information as 
to the progress of the infection, and it was therefore ordered, on 
August 4, that Westminster, St. Catherine's, St. Giles, Southwark, 
and Shoreditch should be included in the bills of mortality. 3 
This increase of the area covered in the weekly certificate should 
be borne in mind when one compares the regulation later 
adopted with the very liberal one suggested by the players in 

The royal patent to the King's company in 1603 — one of the 
worst plague years — provides merely that they may perform 
"when the infection of the plague shall decrease." 4 But the 
Queen's company patent, probably granted in the same year, and 
the Privy Council order of April 9, 1604, 5 lay down an explicit 
rule, — that plays may be given except when the deaths from 
the plague amount to more than thirty weekly "within the City 
of London and the Liberties thereof." This may have been the 
law for some years before James' accession, and it was certainly 

1 Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 215-216. See above, p. 173. 

2 See above, p. 174. 3 Acts, XXIV, 442, 443. 

4 See above, p. 37. » Printed in full in Hcnslowe Papers, 61-62. 


the law for some time thereafter. Mr. Fleay's assumption that 
forty was the specified number invalidates his proof of the exact- 
ness with which the rule was enforced in 1593. 1 

There is no provision concerning the plague in the royal patents 
of 1606, 1609, 1610, and 1613. The King's company patent of 
1619 contains the first mention of forty as the legal number. 
The players may perform "when the infection of the plague shall 
not weekly exceed the number of forty by the certificate of the 
Lord Mayor of London." 2 The same provision is contained 
in the patent granted to this company in 1625. 3 Possibly this 
number remained the legal one throughout the period; or it 
may have been changed to fifty. Two entries in Herbert's 
Office Book for the years 1636-1637 point to the latter as the 
fixed figure. "At the increase of the plague to 4 within the 
citty and 54 in all. — This day the 12 May, 1636, I received a 
warrant from my lord Chamberlen for the suppressing of 
playes and shews." And he later notes that on February 23, 
1637, "the bill of the plague made the number at forty foure, 
upon which decrease the king gave the players their liberty, 
and they began the 24 Feb." * On March 1, according to 
Collier's extracts from the Council Register, on the increase 
of the infection, plays were suppressed again, and were not 
permitted until October 2 following. 5 This does not harmonize 
with Mr. Fleay's theory of the number specified and the exactness 
with which the law was enforced, for his tables show that the 
plague deaths were over forty from the beginning of 1637 until 
August 17, when they fell below that number and remained there 
until the next summer. 6 

Judging from the extreme laxness with which most laws seem 
to have been enforced, we should indeed be chary of believing 
that the plague rule was followed with precision. Probably the 
players often disobeyed it, as did the Cockpit company in May, 

1 He has compared, he says, the dates of the performances in Henslowe's 
Diary with the plague tables for that year. There are no other tables extant 
for Elizabeth's reign. (London Stage, 162.) For a statement of Fleay's error, 
and references to mentions of the rule of thirty in the literature of the period, see 
Thorndike, Influence of Beaumont and Fletcher on Shakspere, i4 _I 5- 

1 Hazlitt, English Drama, 51. 3 Ibid., 58. 4 1S31 Variorum, III, 239. 

1 Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, II, 15-16. 8 Lmdon Stage, 162. 


1637. 1 And apparently the Master of the Revels sometimes 
secured for them some relaxation of it. 2 That it was by no means 
a regulation operating with mechanical exactness, but was subject 
to variation according to different influences and personalities, 
and the will of various high officials, appears from an interesting 
account, given in a letter from Garrard to Wentworth, of a meet- 
ing of the Privy Council. It deals with the suppression of plays 
in the year we have just been considering, — 1637. And with 
this illustration of the conflict of jurisdictions and the way in 
which the enforcement of the laws was sometimes determined, 
we may conclude our account of the London regulations. 

"Upon a little abatement of the plague, even in the first week of 
Lent, the players set up their bills, and began to play in the Black- 
fryars and other houses. But my Lord of Canterbury quickly reduced 
them to a better order; for at the next meeting of the Council his 
Grace complained of it to the King, declared the solemnity of Lent, 
the unfitness of that liberty to be given, both in respect to the time 
and the sickness, which was not extinguished in the City, concluding 
that if his Majesty did not command him to the contrary he would 
lay them by the heels if they played again. My Lord Chamberlain 
[Pembroke and Montgomery] stood up and said that my Lord's Grace 
and he served one God and one King; that he hoped his Grace would 
not meddle in his place no more than he did in his; that the players 
were under his command. My Lord's Grace replied that what he 
had spoken in no way touched upon his place, etc., still concluding 
as he had done before, which he did with some solemnity reiterate 
once or twice. So the King put an end to the business by command- 
ing my Lord Chamberlain that they should play no more." 3 

1 Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, II, 15-16. J See above, p. 76. 

'Strafford Letters, II, 56; quoted in Wheatley and Cunningham, London 
Past and Present, I, 200-201. This letter is dated March 23, 1637. 

The Puritan Victory 

The day of triumph had now come for the party at whom 
the players had so long gibed and scoffed. The term " Puritan" 
is, of course, a very broad and vague one. Coined about 1564, 
the word was applied at first to the men who sought the purest 
form of worship — religlo purissima — by reform from within 
the Church of England, — at first chiefly in matters of form and 
ceremony, and later in some points of Calvinistic doctrine. As 
the extension of the term broadened, it acquired a political sig- 
nificance, denoting those who were 'contending for the principles 
of civil liberty and who, from the latter part of Elizabeth's reign, 
controlled the House of Commons, — the opponents of the court 
party. It was even loosely applied to all men who protested 
against the immorality and corruption in church and state, the 
"life of practical heathenism," as Gardiner calls it, which they 
saw around them, and who sought religious reform and the politi- 
cal rights of the people. It came, moreover, to denote the some- 
what ascetic type of mind, intensely concerned with things moral 
and religious, with which we now most often associate the word. 1 

In the early years of its development Puritanism had among 
its representatives men of high rank in church and state, such 
as Archbishop Grindal and the Earl of Leicester. But as it 
intensified to a rather extreme type, and the line between the 
Court and the popular party became more sharply drawn, its 
adherents were found chiefly among the middle class and the 
poor, — the tradesmen in the towns and the small proprietors in 
the country. In these sections of society it spread with rapidity 
and strength, so that early in James' reign it was probably the 
temper of the majority of Englishmen. 

'See Campbell, The Puritan, I, xxvii; II, 237 ff.; Gardiner, History of 
England, III, 241-242. 



The great political party loosely called Puritan, or Parlia- 
mentary, or Roundhead, of course included "Puritans" of all 
degrees and types. Their attitude towards the drama, as tow- 
ards other questions, varied considerably; but on the whole 
they were opposed to it. Some were opposed merely to its 
abuses, as exemplified on the contemporary stage; some were 
opposed to it altogether and absolutely, as essentially sinful and 
irreligious ; all were inclined to discipline it with a strong hand, 
when opportunity should arise. 

The City of London was one of the great centers of Puritanism. 
The attitude towards plays taken by the municipal government 
during the last quarter of the sixteenth century was largely 
caused, as we have seen, by various economic and social consid- 
erations. But it also shows strongly at times the moral and reli- 
gious view of the stage characteristic of the extreme Puritan, 
and seems to indicate that the wealthier burgess class was 
during these years decidedly Puritan in its convictions. The 
new party must, of course, have increased pretty steadily through- 
out the period, for at the opening of the Civil War the capital 
was practically solid for the Parliamentary side. 1 But there are 
signs that Puritanism in respect to the drama did not spread with 
steady regularity or remain firm in the influential burgess class; 
that, on the contrary, the antipathy to plays grew less violent 
among the ruling citizens in London. As the playhouses became 
less disorderly resorts, and were frequented by a better class, the 
opposition of the municipal officials, we have seen, largely died 
out. Under James and Charles it is evident that the theaters 
appealed rather less to the populace and became to a greater 
extent the resort of fashionable court society. The wealthier 
citizens, and especially their wives, when inspired by any desire 
to ape the manners of the court set, would therefore acquire a 
taste for the drama. In the plays of the period there are fre- 
quent hits at the eagerness of the city dames to get admission 
to the court masques. Their desire to participate in the amuse- 
ments of the upper class could be more easily gratified at the 
theaters of the better sort. 

A striking indication that the relation between the City and 

1 See Sharpe, London, II, 173. 


the stage at this period was not always one of open warfare, 
and the attitude of the municipal officials not extremely Puritanic, 
may be found in the dramatic character of many of the Lord 
Mayor's shows, and the fact that prominent playwrights were 
hired to devise them. During the first half of the seventeenth 
century, Munday, Dekker, Middleton, Webster, and Hey wood 
were the composers of these pageants that ushered in the new 
chief magistrate of the City, 1 — until the austere Puritan regime 
put a stop to the shows for sixteen years. 2 Moreover, the dram- 
atist Middleton, in 1620, was even appointed Chronologer of 
London, 3 and was succeeded in that office by Jonson. 4 

The decline in the puritanical zeal of the city officials was noted 
and lamented in Rawlidge's Monster Lately Found Out, published 
in 1628. The author named plays among other disgraces of 
London, and commended the earlier "pious magistrates" and 
"religious senators" for their zeal in urging Elizabeth and her 
Council to suppress the stage. Had their successors followed 
their worthy example, he believed sin would not have been so 
rampant in the city. 5 

Though the more prominent and influential citizens became 
in many cases thus lenient towards the drama, there are indica- 
tions of the spread of Puritan ideas among the populace. An 
interesting event in 16 17 seems to show that even the appren- 
tices, formerly, as we have seen, among the chief frequenters 
of performances, were beginning to turn against the theater. 
The London prentices had long practised the curious custom 
of attacking and demolishing houses of ill fame on Shrove Tues- 
day, — a habit to which the drama of the period contains many 
allusions. On Shrove Tuesday of 161 7, during some especially 
active rioting, the apprentices extended the range of their moral 
crusading and attempted to pull down the Cockpit theater, 
which they succeeded in damaging to a considerable extent. 

'See Fleay, London Stage, 422; and Fairholt, Lord Mayors' Pageants. At 
the end of the sixteenth century, also, from at least 1586 on, such pageants were 
devised at times by prominent playwrights. The incompleteness of the records 
of the shows for these years, however, makes it impossible to get much light 
on the relations between dramatists and officials at this time. 

1 Fairholt, op. cit., 62. s Bullen's Middleton, I, 1-lii. 

4 Castelain, Ben Jonson, 63, 65, 67. ' Thompson, Puritans and Stage, 144. 


The disorder was evidently serious, for on the following day the 
Privy Council wrote urgently to the Lord Mayor, ordering 
rigorous measures against the offenders. 1 And a year later, 
learning of the apprentices' plan to renew their attack on the 
same occasion, and pull down the Red Bull as well as the Cockpit, 
the Lords commanded the Mayor and the Justices to set strong 
watches to keep the peace. 2 

An odd ballad on the Cockpit attack of 1617, printed by Collier 
as contemporary with this affair, but perhaps of doubtful au- 
thenticity, praises the moral zeal of the apprentices. 3 One 
should certainly be cautious in attributing any such serious mo- 
tive to the rioting. It does seem to show, however, that it had 
now become usual, in some sections of the prentice body 
at least, to class theaters with the most disreputable resorts, as 
fit game for attack; and it perhaps indicates some spread of 
opposition to the playhouses among the populace. That such 
opposition must have been growing, as the city developed the 
adherence to the Puritan or Parliamentary party which it showed 
at the outbreak of the Civil War, seems fairly obvious. 

It remains to summarize very briefly the Puritan attack on 
the stage that culminated in the Ordinances of the Long Parlia- 
ment. Developing from the essentially moral tendency of the 
typical Puritan attitude of mind, — at the opposite pole from 
the typical tone of the drama of the period, — and based largely 
on the patristic writings, in which the Church Fathers violently 
denounced the degenerate Roman stage, the opposition to the 
Elizabethan drama early found definite expression. From 
1576 on, and perhaps before, a succession of vigorous sermons 
by non-conforming clergymen, at Paul's Cross and elsewhere, 
bitterly assailed the evils of the London stage. 4 Formal liter- 
ary attacks also began early. The period during which these 

1 The order is printed in Chalmers, Apology, 466, note; and in 182 1 Variorum, 
III, 495-496, note. 

' The order is printed in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 394, note. 

s Collier, op. cit., I, 386 ff. See also Mackay, Songs and Ballads of the London 
Prentices, 94-97. 

4 For example, White in 1576, Stockwood in 1578, Spark in 1579, Field in 
1583, etc. See Thompson, Puritans and Stage, passim, and Halliwell-Phillipps, 
Outlines, 368. 


chiefly flourished was the decade from 1577 to 1587, — including 
those years in which the opposition of the city government to 
plays was especially intense. 1 Northbrooke's Treatise in 1577, 
Gosson's Schoolc of Abuse in 1579, .4 Second and Third Blast 
of Ret rait in 1580, Gosson's Playcs Confuted in 1582, Stubbes' 
Anatomic of Abuses in 1583, and Rankins' Mirrour of Monsters 
in 1587 — to name only the most prominent — reflect the bitter 
opposition to plays felt at this time. During the next quarter 
of a century the only notable contribution to the controversy was 
Rainolde's Overthrow of Stage-Playes, published in 1599. In 
the second decade of the seventeenth century, however, literary 
attacks again became frequent. Wither's Abuses Stript and 
Wkipt in 1613, the Refutation of Heywood's Apology for Actors 
in 161 5, the Shorte Treatise Against Stage-Playes in 1625, Raw- 
lidge's Monster Lately Found Out in 1628, — all these renewed 
the literary onslaught which culminated in Prynne's Histrio- 
Masiix, published in 1632, a summary and amplification of 
all previous attacks. 

The general line of argument followed is much the same in all 
^these writings. The authors rely to a great extent on authority. 
They quote texts from the Bible which they interpret as con- 
demning plays. They bring to bear a perfect battery of quota- 
tions from the Church Fathers denouncing the stage. They cite 
the classics, — chiefly Plato's banishing of poets from his ideal 
commonwealth, and strangely distorted interpretations of Cicero 
and others. They bring forward the Roman laws against actors 
and the legislation of Church Councils^ They condefhn the 
sinfulness of appareling boys in women's clothes, and other 
features of the contemporary dramas/Most convincingly of all, 
they portray the evil associations of the theaters, the demoral- 
izing companions whom the London youth there meets, the inde- 
cency and immorality presented upon the stage, with examples 
of the dire effects they have wrought. Some of the writers — 
notably Northbrooke, the earliest — do not condemn plays alto- 
gether, but think that under certain circumstances some of them, 
such as academic plays, are permissible. But the general ten- 
dency is to forbid them utterly, as snares of the Devil, irreligious 

1 See above, p. 160. 


and sinful abominations, — in the words of the municipal edict 
of banishment, "great provoking of the wrath of God, the 
ground of all plagues." ^^^ 

A characteristic summary of the Puritan line of argument 
may be found on the very elaborate title-page of Prynne's His- 
trio-Mastix. 2 " Histrio-Mastix. The Players Scourge, or Actors 
Tragaedie, Divided into Two Parts. Wherein it is largely evi- 
denced, by divers Arguments, by the concurring Authorities 
and Resolutions of sundry texts of Scripture ; of the whole Primi- 
tive Church, both under the Law and Gospell; of 55 Synodes 
and Councels; of 71 Fathers and Christian Writers, before the 
yeare of our Lord 1200; of above 150 foraigne and domestique 
Protestant and Popish Authors, since ; of 40 Heathen Philoso- 
phers, Historians, Poets ; of many Heathen, many Christian Na- 
tions, Republiques, Emperors, Princes, Magistrates; of sundry 
Apostolicall, Canonicall, Imperiall Constitutions; and of our 
owne English Statutes, Magistrates, Universities, Writers, 
Preachers. That popular Stage-playes (the very Pompes of the 
Divell which we renounce in Baptisme, if we beleeve the Fathers) 
are sinfull, heathenish, lewde, ungodly Spectacles, and most 
pernicious Corruptions; condemned in all ages, as intolerable 
Mischiefes to Churches, to Republickes, to the manners, mindes 
and soules of men. And that the Profession of Play-poets, of 
Stage players ; together with the penning, acting and frequenting 
of Stage-playes, are unlawfull, infamous and misbeseeming 
Christians. All pretences to the contrary are here likewise 
fully answered; and the unlawfulness of acting, of beholding 
Academicall Enterludes, briefly discussed ; besides sundry other 
particulars concerning Dancing, Dicing, Health-drinking, &c. 
of which the Table will informe you. By William Prynne, an 
Vtter-Barrester of Lincolnes Inne." 

The attitude taken by the Puritans towards the statutes regu- 
lating players is from our point of view especially important. 
Inspired by the Roman and the Canonical laws against actors, 3 

1 See above, p. 164. 

2 Dated 1633, but published 1632. For an account of the book, see Thomp- 
son, Puritans and Stage, chap. 15, and Ward, English Dramatic Literature, III, 
240 ff. s See above, p. 21. 


the Puritans from the first seem to have seized eagerly upon the 
mention of players in the statutory definition of rogues and vaga- ( 
bonds, and to have assumed that this branded them all as of 
that outcast status. Referring to the Qtfeen's company in 1584, 
the pick, of the "quality," the London officials, as we have seen, 
remarked that "if they were not her Majesty's servants," they 
would " by their profession be rogues." ! An excellent summary 
of this view may be found in Prynne. He cites the mention 
of players in the Statutes 14 Elizabeth, cap. 5, and 39 Elizabeth, 
cap. 4, and the provision for licensing them , 2 — "which li- 
cense," he asserts, "exempted them onely from the punishment, 
not from the infamy, or stile of Rogues and Vacabonds." Since 
these laws did not prove effectual in suppressing plays, Prynne 
goes on to say, the Statute 1 James I, cap. 7, enacted that no 
license from any baron or other honorable personage of greater 
degree should free wandering players from the penalties of 
vagabondage. 3 " So that now," writes Prynne, " by these several 
acts of Parliament ... all common Stage-playes are solemnely 
adiudged to be unlawfull and pernicious Exercises, not sufferable 
in our State: and all common Stage- players, by whomsoever 
licensed; to be but Vacabonds, Rogues, and Sturdy Beggars." * 
" So that all Magistrates," he continues, "may now justly punish 
them as Rogues and Vacabonds, where-ever they goe, (yea they 
ought both in law and conscience for to doe it, since these severall 
Statutes thus inforce them to it) notwithstanding any License 
which they can procure, since the expresse words of the Statute of 
/. Iacobi. cap. 7. hath made all Licenses unavaylable to free them 
from such punishments." 5 The system of royal patents for 
players which had grown up Prynne thus denounces, indirectly 
if not explicitly, as unconstitutional. The Master of the Revels 
he has less scruple in attacking openly. " Magistrates in sundry 
Citties and Counties of our Realme, have from time to time, pun- 
ished all wandring Stage-players as Rogues, notwithstanding 
the Master of the Revels, or other mens allowance, who have no 
legall authority to license vagrant Players' 


1 See above, p. 173. 2 See above, pp. 27 fT. 3 See above, p. 28. 

* Histrio-Maslix, 496; the italics are Prynne's. ' Ibid., 497. 

• Ibid., 492. 



It is possible that the Puritan majority in Parliament, when 
passing the Statute i James I, cap. 7, had indeed intended, or at 
least desired, to abolish all licenses for wandering players, though 
they must have realized that the system of royal patents which 
had already developed would probably continue. 1 But, as we 
have seen, the government certainly adopted no such interpre- 
tation of the law. By the patents that the King granted to the 
royal companies, authorizing their performances and requesting 
that, as his servants, they might be shown favor for his sake, 
and by the elaborate licensing system developed under the 
crown official, the Master of the Revels, the government pro- 
vided adequately for the license of worthy players, and gave 
them a legal status amply sufficient to protect them from being 
classed as vagabonds. 

Not all Puritans, indeed, interpreted the statutes as rigor- 
ously as did Prynne. The Shorte Treatise against Stage-Playes, 
printed in 1625, evidently did not regard plays as already entirely 
forbidden by law, for it besought Parliament "by some few 
Words added to the former Statutes, to restreyne them for euer 
hereafter." 2 But throughout the period Puritan writers taunted 
the players with their classification as vagabonds, and the atti- 
tude of the whole party made sufficiently evident what policy 
they would pursue when the governmental authority should be 
in their hands. The actors realized the fate that was impend- 
ing. In the Stage-Players Complaint, printed in 1641, which 
laments the sad state of the prof ession caused by the serious plague 
in London, a player prophecies worse times to come. " Monopo- 
lers are downe, Projectors are downe, the High Commission Court 
is downe, the Starre-Chamber is down, & (some think) Bishops 
will downe, and why should we then that are farre inferior to 
any of those not justly feare, least we should be downe too?" 3 

The misgivings of the players were soon proved only too well 
founded. The Long Parliament now took the reins of govern- 
ment, and on September 2, 1642, issued the following solemn 
Ordinance of the Lords and Commons. 

" Whereas the distressed estate of Ireland, steeped in her own blood, 
and the distracted estate of England, threatened with a cloud of blood 

1 Sec above, pp. 35-38. 2 Hazlitt, English Drama, 232. 3 Ibid., 256. 


by a civil war, call for all possible means to appease and avert the 
wrath of God appearing in these judgments: amongst which fasting 
and prayer, having been often tried to be very effectual, have been 
lately and are still enjoined: and whereas public sports do not well 
agree with public calamities, nor public stage-plays with the seasons 
of humiliation, this being an exercise of sad and pious solemnity, and 
the other being spectacles of pleasure, too commonly expressing las- 
civious mirth and levity: it is therefore thought fit and ordained by 
the Lords and Commons in this Parliament assembled, that while 
these sad causes and set-times of humiliation do continue, public 
stage-plays shall cease and be forborne. Instead of which are recom- 
mended to the people of this land the profitable and seasonable con- 
siderations of repentance, reconciliation and peace with God, which 
probably will produce outward peace and prosperity, and bring again 
times of joy and gladness to these nations." l 

This edict, it will be noticed, does not express the extreme 
Puritan view. It forbids only public performances, and these 
but temporarily. Besides religious antipathy to plays, motives 
of political caution probably caused the suppression, as in early 
Tudor days. The party in power must have realized the hos- 
tility felt towards them by the players, the adherents of the 
Court, and feared lest the performances should be used to foment 
rebellion against the Parliamentary rule. 

When the Puritans passed a law suppressing plays, plays 
were really suppressed. Though sporadic attempts to revive 
performances were made during the next decade, this edict 
practically closed the theaters, and certainly marked the end 
of the Elizabethan drama. Most of the actors seem to have 
accepted the pronouncement as final. Some addressed mock- 
ing petitions to Parliament via "the great god Phoebus Apollo 
and the nine Heliconian Sisters," begging for the relaxation of 
the law. 2 But the majority of the prominent players entered 
the King's army, and there, as the Historia Histrionka tells 
us, "like good men and true, served their old master, though 
in a different, yet more honourable capacity." Only one of 
any note, Swanston, sided with the Parliamentary party. 3 

1 Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, II, 36; Hazlitt, English Drama, 63. 
See also Gardiner, Great Civil War, I, 14-15. 

2 See Hazlitt, English Drama, 259 ff.; and Thompson, Puritans and Stage, 184. 

3 Wright, Historia Histrionka, 409. 


The suppression of plays was to last, according to the edict, 
only during the troubled times of conflict. In 1647 the war 
was considered practically at an end; but the opposition to 
the stage continued and even grew more extreme. Apparently 
some players ventured to perform, for on July 16, 1647, the 
House of Commons ordered that the Lord Mayor and the 
Justices of the Peace in and about London "be required to take 
effectual Care speedily to suppress all publick Plays and Play- 
houses, and all Dancings on the Ropes," and desired the con- 
currence of the Lords in this edict. 1 The Upper House assented, 
but amended the order by adding bear-baitings to the list of 
shows to be suppressed, and providing that the edict should 
continue until January 1, 1648. Against this time limit some 
of the Lords protested, on the ground that it was the desire of 
Parliament that stage-plays should be forbidden forever. But 
the Commons apparently did not feel that the mentioTTof a date 
for the expiration of this particular order implied that plays were 
to be allowed thereafter, and on July 17 they accepted without 
protest the bill as amended by the Lords. 2 

About this time or earlier there seems to have been, according 
to Collier, an attempt to perform Beaumont and Fletcher's 
A King and No King, — a production promptly stopped by the 
Sheriffs. 3 Even after the new order against plays, some actors 
continued to be rebellious. Complaints were made to the Com- 
mons of the "bold Attempt of Stage-Players playing at Publick 
Houses in the City, contrary to Ordinance of Parliament," and 
on October 18, 1647, amore severe edict "for the better suppression 
of Stage-plays, Interludes and Common Players" was passed 
by the House. 4 With the approval of the Lords this was issued 
on October 22. 5 It directs and empowers the Lord Mayor, the 
Sheriffs, and the Justices of the Peace to search all playing places 
in and about London, and arrest all persons who may be proved 
to have performed in plays. Definitely assuming the Puritan 

1 Journals of the House of Commons, V, 246. 

2 Ibid., 248; Journals 0/ the House of Lords, IX, 334-335. 

3 See Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, II, 37, 40; Fleay, London Stage, 365. 
* Rushworth, Collections, pt. IV, vol. ii, 844. 

6 Ibid., 847,848; Collier, op. cil., II, iio-m; Hazlitt, English Drama, 64-65. 

view, the ordinance declares that all such actors arc to be brought 
before the Qext General Sessions of the Peace, "there to be pun- 
ished as Rogues, according to law." 

Though Parliament evidently considered that the original 
edict of suppression passed in 1642 was still in force, and had 
no real intention of relaxing the prohibition, some of the players 
seized upon the time limit set for the expiration of the order of 
July 17, 1647, as an excuse for performing, and in January, 
1648, ventured to open their theaters. The public seems to 
have responded with eagerness. On January 27 it was reckoned 
that no less than one hundred and twenty coaches set down spec- 
tators at one theater alone, — the Fortune. At the Red Bull 
Beaumont and Fletcher's Wit Without Money was performed. 1 

The Puritan spirit of Parliament was now aroused to extreme 
measures. On January 22, 1648, the Commons were " informed 
that many Stage-Plays were acted in the several parts of the City 
and County of Middlesex, notwithstanding the Ordinance of 
Parliament to the contrary. /The House hereupon ordered, 
That an Ordinance should be drawn for suppressing all Stage- 
Plays, and taking down all their Boxes, Stages and Seats in 
the several Houses where the said Plays were usually Acted, 
and make it unserviceable for Acting any Plays in for the future; 
and for making a Penalty for such as shall disobey the said Ordi- 
nance : and this Ordinance to be brought in with all convenient 
speed. They further Ordered, That the Lord Mayor and Sher- 
iffs, andjustices of the Peace of the City of London, and the 
several Militia's of the Cities of London and Westminster, 
and likewise of the Hamlets, should take care for the sup- 
pressing T)f all Stage-Plays for the time to come." 2 Appar- 
ently no less eager than the Commons to put down such per- 
formances, the Lords, on January 31, sent to the House an 
Ordinance for Suppressing Stage-Plays. But the Commons pre- 
ferred the act that their own committee had drafted, which was 
accordingly passed by both Houses and issued on February n. 3 

1 Gardiner, Great Civil War, IV, 69, quoting contemporary newspapers. 
1 Rushworth, Collections, pt. IV, vol. ii, 972. 

' Ibid., 980, 991-992; Scobell, Acts and Ordinances, 143-144; Hazlitt, Eng- 
lish Drama, 66 ft.; Collier, op. cit., II, 44 ft., note. 


This rigorous ordinance takes the extreme Puritan stand. 
"Whereas the Acts of Stage-Playes, Interludes, and common 
Playes, condemned by ancient Heathens, and much lesse to be 
tolerated amongst Professors of the Christian Religion, is the 
occasion of many and sundry great vices and disorders, tending 
to the high provocation of Gods wrath and displeasure, which 
lies heavy upon this Kingdome, and to the disturbance of the 
peace thereof; in regard whereof the same hath beene prohibited 
by Ordinance of this present Parliament, and yet is presumed 
to be practised by divers in contempt thereof." For the better 
suppression of such performances the Lords and Commons 
therefore declare that "all stage-players and players of interludes 
and common plays" shall be considered rogues in the eyes of 
the law, within the statutes of Elizabeth and James, and liable 
to the pains and penalties therein provided. They shall be 
proceeded against according to these statutes "whether they 
be wanderers or no, and notwithstanding any License whatso- 
ever from the King or any person or persons to that purpose." 
The status of vagabond was thus imposed upon all players, 
— not merely unlicensed traveling ones, as in the laws here- 
tofore. And the system of royal patents and licenses by the 
Master of the Revels was utterly abolished, leaving the actors 
with no possibility of legal protection. The extreme Puritan 
view advocated by Prynne thus became the law of the land. 

The Ordinance further directs the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, 
and the Justices of the Peace to "pull down and demolish . . . 
all Stage-Galleries, Seats, and Boxes, erected and used for the 
acting or playing, or seeing acted or plaid, such Stage-Playes" 
in and about London. Any player proved to have acted in 
such performances shall be publicly whipped and bound by 
sureties never to act again, or in default of such security com- 
mitted to jail. If he offend a second time, he shall be punished 
as an incorrigible rogue, according to the statutes. All money 
taken as admission fees shall be forfeited to the churchwardens 
of the parish, and devoted to the use of the poor. And every 
person present as a spectator shall be fined five shillings for each 
offense, — the money to be used for the same charitable purpose. 

All Mayors, bailiffs, constables, and other officers, soldiers, 


and all persons were ordered to assist in the enforcement of this 
rigorous ordinance. And in September, 1648, when Captain 
Bethan was made Provost Marshal, he was directed to "seize 
upon all Ballad Singers, Sellers of Malignant Pamphlets, and 
to send them to the several Militias, and to suppress Stagc- 
playes." x 

In spite of all these severe measures some players still ven- 
tured to perform. According to the Historic, Histrionica, "they 
made up one company out of all the scattered members of sev- 
eral; and in the winter before the King's murder, 1648, they 
ventured to act some plays, with as much caution and privacy 
as could be, at the Cockpit. They continued undisturbed for 
ihree or four days; but at last, as they were presenting the 
tragedy of the 'Bloody Brother' ... a party of foot-soldiers 
"beset the house, surprised 'em about the middle of the play, and 
carried 'em away in their habits, not admitting them to shift, to 
Hatton House, then a prison, where, having detained them 
some time, they plundered them of their clothes, and let 'em 
loose again." 2 But even such mishaps could not discourage 
them. "Afterwards, in Oliver's time," the Historia continues, 
"they used to act privately, three or four miles, or more, out of 
town, now here, now there : sometimes in noblemen's houses, 
in particular, Holland House at Kensington. ... At Christ- 
mas and Bartholomew Fair, they used to bribe the officer who 
commanded the guard at Whitehall, and were thereupon con- 
nived at to act for a few days at the Red Bull, but were some- 
times, notwithstanding, disturbed by soldiers." 3 

On one occasion at least the actors endeavored by humble 
submission and promises of good behavior to soften the rigor 
of the law. About 1650 "diverse poor and distressed men, 
heretofore the Actors of Black-Friers and the Cock-Pit," peti- 
tioned Parliament. They cannot support themselves and their 
families, they plead, and they beg that they may be allowed to 
play for a short time on trial, to demonstrate their inoffensiveness. 
They will produce "only moral and harmless representations." 

1 Whitclocke, Memorials, 332. ■ Wright, Historia Histrionica, 409-410. 

3 Ibid., 410-4 1 1. Concerning the "drolls" acted on these occasions, see the 
note, ibid., and Ward, English Dramatic Literature, III, 280. 


To any one appointed to oversee them they promise implicit 
obedience, and they assure Parliament that they are willing 
to contribute "for the service of Ireland or as the State shall 
think fitting." x Their appeal evidently had no effect. 

Unable to secure any relaxation of the law, the players occa- 
sionally, as we have seen, dared to act in defiance of it. The 
troubles in which such venturesome performers involved them- 
selves appear at times in the records of these years. On De- 
cember 20, 1649, for example, some actors in St. John Street 
(where the Red Bull was situated) "were apprehended by 
Troupers, their Cloaths taken away, and themselves carried 
to prison." 2 Again, in December, 1654, at the same playhouse, 
the Red Bull, the players "being gotten into all their borrowed 
gallantry and ready to act, were by some of the souldiery de- 
spoiled of all their bravery, but the souldiery carried themselves 
very civilly towards the audience." 3 In September, 1655, the 
Red Bull players were once more in trouble and, as usual, lost 
some of their costumes. The soldiers, less civil on this occa- 
sion, put to rout the assemblage with many "broken crowns," 
seized some of the actors and confiscated their clothes, and made 
the spectators pay the fine of five shillings each or, in default of 
this, leave their cloaks behind them. 4 About January 1, 1656, 
seven players who dared to perform at Newcastle were arrested 
and publicly whipped as rogues and vagabonds. 5 And among 
the instructions issued to Major-General Desborow in this same 
month, he was ordered to suppress all horse-races, cock-fighting, 
bear-baiting, stage-plays, or other unlawful assemblies, by 
seizing the persons met on such occasions. 6 On the whole, in 
spite of the sporadic breaches of the law, it is evident that the 
ordinance of suppression was, especially with the aid of Crom- 

1 Petition printed in Notes and Queries, June 16, 1894, by C. H. Firth, from a 
volume of pamphlets of the year 1650. 

2 Whitelocke, Memorials, 419. 

3 The Perfect Account, December 27-January 3, 1654-1655, quoted by 
C. H. Firth in Notes and Queries, August 18, 1888. 

* State Papers, Dont., 1655, 336; Weekly Intelligencer, September n-18, 
1655, quoted by C. H. Firth in Notes and Queries, August 18, 1888. 

'Whitelocke, Memorials, 619; Public Intelligencer, January 14-21, 1656, 
quoted by C. H. Firth in Notes and Queries, August 18, 1888. 

• State Papers, Dom., 1655-1656, 103. 


well's soldiery, rather rigorously enforced, and that the English 
stage was during these years practically non-existent. 

In 1656 the ingenious D'Avenant devised a form of entertain- 
ment which would not come under the ban of the law. On May 
21 of that year, by permission of the authorities, he presented, 
"at the back part of Rutland House, in Aldersgate Street," an 
entertainment of declamation and music "after the manner of 
the ancients." And later in the same year he produced at the 
same place his Siege of Rhodes, "made a Representation by the 
Art of Prospective in Scenes, and the Story sung in Recitative 
Musick." ' Emboldened by his success, in 1658 D'Avenant 
ventured to produce a similar entertainment, The Cruelty of the 
Spaniards in Peru, at the old theater of the Cockpit in Drury 
Lane. The new Protector, Richard, seems to have had his 
attention drawn to this enterprise. On December 23, an in- 
vestigation was ordered into the nature of this "Opera," and by 
what authority it was produced. A general consideration of the 
acting of stage-plays was also directed, and a later report upon 
the question. 2 The attitude of the government now seems to 
have become lenient, and D'Avenant's venture continued suc- 
cessfully until the Restoration and beyond. But this work of 
his belongs to the new era. The Elizabethan drama had passed 
forever. ■—» 

It is customary in histories of the drama and the stage to 
express some judgment, generally severe, upon the Puritan sup- 
pression of the theaters. But fair decisions on such actions in 
the past are not easy. According to their own standards, the 
Puritan or Parliamentary party certainly did right in rigorously 
prohibiting the drama. And it is not impossible for modern 
English and American minds, still so deeply impregnated by the 
spirit of the Puritan movement, to appreciate their point of view. 
To men who had already developed something of the modern 
sensibility in matters of decency and morality, most of the later 
Elizabethan drama must indeed have seemed hopelessly ab- 
horrent. Motives of political prudence, moreover, also urged 

1 See Ward, English Dramatic Literature, III, 281-282; Whitclocke, Memo- 
rials, 639. 

' 1S21 Variorum, III, 93, note. 


the dominant party to act against the stage. Their moral zeal, 
it is true, carried them to an extreme, — just as the lack of that 
quality had carried the playwrights to the opposite pole, whither 
again, in the perpetual swinging of the pendulum back and forth 
across and beyond the golden mean, the reaction against Puri- 
tanism was to carry the men of the Restoration. There was 
much to justify extreme measures at the time of the closing of 
the theaters. (Asone thinks of the stage of the period, no longer 
expressive ofthe best feelings of the nation, as one remembers" 
the preposterous horrors into which tragedy had degenerated, 
and the inexpressibly offensive indecency of much of the comedy 
of the time, and with this picture of the drama in mind, reads 
the grave and dignified phrases of the edict of 1642, one feels 
that, for the moment at least, the Puritans had the better part. 



For convenience of reference I have here tabulated all the royal 
patents to companies, so far as I know them, which have been pre- 
served or which are specifically mentioned in documents of the period. 
There were certainly others of which we have as yet no definite notice. 
Several of the companies named below are known to have existed for 
some time before the date of their first extant patent. 

1574, May 7. The Earl of Leicester's company. 
Privy Seal directing a Great Seal. 
Printed above, pp. 33-34. See also pp. 49-50, 155. 

1603, May 19. The King's company. 

Globe theater. Great Seal. 

Printed above, pp. 36-37. Transcripts of all the stages through 
which the warrant passed — the Docket, the Bill of Privy Signet, the 
Writ of Privy Seal, and the Patent under the Great Seal — are printed 
in Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines, 595 ff. 

1603, July (?). The Queen's company. 

Boar's Head and Curtain theater. 

This exists only in a rough, undated draft. In the Calendar of 
State Papers (Dom., Add., 1623-1625, 530), where a brief abstract is 
given, it is conjecturally dated July, 1603. 

Printed in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 336-337. 

Mr. Fleay doubts the authenticity of this document (London Stage, 
190-191); but his reasons are not convincing. (1) He objects that 
it licenses the company's playing within London, whereas no men 
players were allowed at this date within the City. But it permits 
their performances there only on the cessation of the plague, and there 
is no proof that men players were not allowed in London at this time 
under such circumstances. (2) He objects that it provides that deaths 
from the plague shall be under 30 a week, "whereas 40 is well known 
to be the correct number." But the letter of the Privy Council to 
the Lord Mayor on April 9, 1604, specifies 30, and 40 is not mentioned 
until the King's company patent of 1619. (See above, pp. 212—213.) 
(3) He objects that it mentions the Boar's Head and the Curtain as the 



usual playhouses of the company, whereas we know that Worcester's 
men — these same actors — played at the Rose in May, 1603, and 
at the Red Bull and Curtain in 1609, while of a Boar's Head playing 
house no other mention is found since Queen Mary's time. But a 
letter from the Privy Council to the Lord Mayor on March 31, 1602, 
grants permission to this same company to play "at the Boar's Head 
in Eastcheap." (Remembrancia, 355.) 

1604, January 31. The Children of the Queen's Revels. 

Warrant to Edward Kirkham and others. Blackfriars theater. 
Privy Seal directing a Great Seal. 

Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 40-41 ; Collier, English Drama- 
tic Poetry, I, 340. 

See above, pp. 19, 61. 

1606, April 30. The Prince's company. 

Fortune theater. Privy Seal. 

Printed in the Shakspere Society Papers, IV, 42-43. 

See above, pp. 37, 63. 

1609, April 15. The Queen's company. 

Red Bull and Curtain theaters. Privy Seal. 
Printed in the Shakspere Society Papers, IV, 45-46. 

16 10, January 4. The Children of the Queen's Revels. 

Warrant to Philip Rosseter and others. Whitefriars theater. 
Great Seal. 

Mentioned in Patent of May 31, 1615. See below. 

16 10, March 30. The Duke of York's company. 

Authorization to perform in and about London, "in such usual 
houses as themselves shall provide." Privy Seal. 

Printed in the Shakspere Society Papers, IV, 47-48. 

16 13, January 4. The Elector Palatine's company. 

Fortune theater. Privy Seal directing a Great Seal. Issued on 
the Elector's taking over the company of the deceased Prince of Wales. 

Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 44-46. Order for Privy Seal 
in Collier, English Dramatic Poetry, I, 366-367. 

1615, May 31. 

Patent to Philip Rosseter and others granting permission to erect 
a theater in Blackfriars. Privy Seal directing a Great Seal. 

Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 46-48; Collier, English Drama- 
tic Poetry, I, 380 ft. 

This is not itself a company patent, but it mentions that of Janu- 


ary 4, 1610, and it authorizes performances in the proposed theater 
by the Children of the Queen's Revels, the Prince's company, and the 
Lady Elizabeth's company. 
See above, pp. 108 S. 

1615, July 17. Her Majesty's Servants of her Royal Chamber 

at Bristol. 

A provincial traveling company. Great Seal. To John Daniel. 

Mentioned in the Letters of Assistance of April, 1618. See below. 

Apparently it was first intended to grant this patent to Samuel 
Daniel, the poet, John Daniel's brother. See Sir George Buc's 
letter of July 10, 161 5, consenting to its issue, in State Papers, Dom., 
1611-1618, 294. And see above, p. 64. 

16 18, April. 

Letters of Assistance from the Privy Council to John Daniel, con- 
firming the patent of July 17, 1615. 

Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 49-50; Collier, English Dra- 
matic Poetry, I, 395-396. 

16 19, March 27. The King's company. 

Globe and Blackfriars theaters. Privy Seal (?). 

Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 50-52; Collier, English Dra- 
matic Poetry, I, 400-401. 

See above, pp. 201-202. 

This patent is often misdated 1620. Hazlitt labels it " March 27, 
1619-1620"; but as the year began, according to the old style, on 
March 25, this is meaningless. The document is indorsed "vicesimo 
septimo die Martii Anno. R. Regis Jacobi decimo septimo," — i.e. 
March 27, 17 James I. Elizabeth died on March 24, 1603. March 
27, 1 James I, was therefore in 1603, and March 27, 17 James I, in 

1619. In the State Papers, Dom., 1619-1623, 28, the patent is 
properly dated March 27, 1619, new style. 

1620, February 24. Patent to Robert Lea and others. 
Mentioned by Sir Henry Herbert after the Restoration. Halliwell- 

Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 93. 
See above, p. 64. 

1622, July 8. The Children of the Revels. 

Warrant to Robert Lee, Richard Perkins, and others, "late come- 
dians of Queen Anne deceased." No theater named. Order for a 
Privy Seal. 

Printed in 1821 Variorum, III, 62, note. 


1625, June 24. The King's company. 

Globe and Blackfriars theaters. Privy Seal. 

Printed in Hazlitt, English Drama, 57-59; Collier, English Dra- 
matic Poetry, I, 435 - 43^- 

Issued by Charles I on his taking over his father's company, and 
in the same form as the patent of March 27, 1619, to the same players. 

See above, p. 38. 

1628, December 9. The Lady Elizabeth's company. 

Privy Seal. 

Abstract in State Papers, Dom., 1628-1629, 406. 

1630-163 1. Patent to Andrew Cave and others. 

Mentioned by Sir Henry Herbert after the Restoration. Halliwell- 
Phillipps, Dramatic Records, 93. 
See above, p. 64. 


The following list does not represent all the sources consulted in the 
preparation of this essay. Its purpose is merely to indicate the full title 
and the edition used in the case of each of the books cited in the foot-notes, 
in order to facilitate reference. Articles in journals, magazines, and such 
series of publications as those of the Shakspere Societies and the Modern 
Language Association are not included here, for in all such citations suffi- 
cient particulars are given in the foot-notes. 

Acts of the Privy Council of England. New series, 1542-1604. Ed. J. R. 

Dasent. 32 vols. London, 1890-1907. 
Agas, Radulph. Civitas Londinum : A Survey of the Cities of London and 

Westminster, the Borough of Southwark and Parts Adjacent, in tlte 

Reign of Queen Elizabeth. Ed. W. H. Overall. London, 1874. 
Alleyn Papers: A Collection of Original Documents Illustrative of the Life 

and Times of Edward Alleyn and of the Early English Stage and Drama. 

Ed. J. P. Collier. Shakspere Society Publications, vol. XVIII. 

London, 1843. 
Arber, Edward. An Introductory Sketch to the Martin Mar prelate Contro- 
versy. English Scholar's Library, no. 8. 
Arber, Edward. Transcript of the Registers of the Stationers' Company, 

1554-1640. 5 vols. London, 1875-1894. 
Ascham, Roger. The Scholemaster . Ed. Edward Arber. Westminster, 

Baker, G. P. The Development of Shakespeare as a Dramatist. New York, 

Beaumont and Fletcher. Works. Ed. Henry Weber. 14 vols. Edin- 
burgh, 181 2. 
Beaumont and Fletcher. Works. Variorum Edition. 12 vols. London, 

Benham, William, and Welch, Charles. Mediaeval London. London, 

1 901. 
Besant, Sir Walter. London in the Time of the Stuarts. London, 1903. 
Birch, W. de G. Historical Charters and Constitutional Documents of the 

City of London. London, 1887. 
Brandl, Alois. Quellen des wcltlichen Dramas in England. Quellen und 

Forschungen zur Sprach- und Culturgeschichte, no. 80. Strassburg, 


Brome, Richard. Dramatic Works. 3 vols. London, 1873. 

Bullen, A. H. Collection of Old English Plays. 4 vols. London, 1882- 




Campbell, Douglas. The Puritan in Holland, England and America. 
2 vols. New York, 1892. 

Castelain, Maurice. Ben Jonson: L' Homme et VCEuvre. Paris, 1907. 

Chalmers, George. An Apology for the Believers in the Shakspeare-Papers 
which were Exhibited in Norfolk-Street. London, 1797. 

Chalmers, George. A Supplemental Apology for the Believers in the Shak- 
speare-Papers. London, 1799. 

Chambers, E. K. The Mediaeval Stage. 2 vols. Oxford, 1903. 

Chambers, E. K. Notes on the History of the Revels Office under the Tudors. 
London, 1906. 

Chapman, George. Works: Plays. Chatto and Windus Edition. London, 

Chapman, George. Works: Poems and Minor Translations. Chatto and 
Windus Edition. London, 1875. 

Cibber, Colley. Apology for the Life of Mr. Colley Cibber, Written by Him- 
self. Ed. R. W. Lowe. 2 vols. London, 1889. 

Collier, J. P. History of English Dramatic Poetry to the Time of Shake- 
speare, and Annals of the Stage to the Restoration. 3 vols. London, 


Collier, J. P. Memoirs of Edward Alleyn, Founder of Dulwich College. 
Shakspere Society Publications, vol. I. London, 1841. 

Cunningham, Peter. Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court, in 
the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. Shakspere Society 
Publications, vol. VII. London, 1842. 

Dodsley, Robert. Old Plays. Ed. W. C. Hazlitt. 15 vols. London, 1874- 

1821 Variorum. See Shakspere. 

Fairholt, F. W. History of Lord Mayors' Pageants. Percy Society Pub- 
lications, vol. X. London, 1843. 

Fleay, F. G. A Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama, 1559-1642. 
2 vols. London, 1891. 

Fleay, F. G. A Chronicle History of the London Stage, 1550-1642. Lon- 
don, 1890. 

Fleay, F. G. A Chronicle History of the Life and Work of William Shake- 
speare, Player, Poet and Playmaker. New York, 1886. 

Foxe, John. Ecclesiastical History, conteyning the Actes and Monumentes 
of Martyrs. 2 vols. London, 1576. 

Gardiner, S. R. History of England from the Accession of James I to the 
Outbreak of the Civil War, 1603-1642. 10 vols. London, 1893-1895. 

Gardiner, S. R. History of the Great Civil War. 4 vols. London, 1893- 

Gosson, Stephen. The Schoole of Abuse, containing a Pleasant Invective 

against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters and such like Caterpillars of a 

Commonwealth. Shakspere Society Publications, vol. II. London, 

184 1. 
Halliwell-Phillipps, J. O. A Collection of Ancient Documents respecting 


the Office of Master of the Revels, and Other Papers relating to the Early 
English Theatre, from the Original Manuscripts formerly in the Hasle- 
wood Collection. London, 1870. Running title, Dramatic Records. 

Halliwell-Phillipps, J. O. Illustrations of the Life of Shakespeare. London, 

Ilalliwcll-Phillipps, J. O. Letters of the Kings of England. 2 vols. London, 

Halliwell-Phillipps, J. O. Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare. London, 

Halliwell-Phillipps, J. O. Visits of Shakespeare's Company of Actors to the 
Provincial Cities and Towns of England. Brighton, 1887. 

Harrison, William. Description of England in Shakspere' s Youth. Ed. 
F. J. Furnivall. New Shakspere Society Publications, series 6, no. 1, 
5, and 8. London, 1877-1881. 

Hazlitt, W. C. The English Drama and Stage, under the Tudor and Stuart 
Princes, 1543-1664. Illustrated by a Series of Documents, Treatises 
and Poems. Printed for the Roxburghe Library, 1869. 

Hazlitt, W. C. The Livery Companies of the City of London. London, 

Henslowe, Philip. Diary. Ed. W. W. Greg. Part I, Text. London, 

Henslowe Papers, being Documents Supplementary to his Diary. Ed. W. 
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Herbert of Cherbury, Edward, Lord. Autobiography. Ed. S. L. Lee. 
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Heywood, Thomas. An Apology for Actors. Shakspere Society Publica- 
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vols, in 2. London, 1586-1587. 

Ingram, J. H. Christopher Marlowe and his Associates. London, 1904. 

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Journals of the House of Commons, i$47~- 

Journals of the House of Lords, 1509-. 

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Amusements, chiefly in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Ex- 
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vols. London, 1823. 
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London, 1843. 
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Ordish, T. F. Early London Theatres. London, 1894. 
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from the Sixteenth Year of King James to the Death of King Charles I. 

4 parts in 7 vols. 1659-1701. 


Rymer, Thomas, anil Sanderson, Robert. Fcedera, Convention; s, Literce, 
ct Cujuscunque Generis Acta Publica. 20 vols. London, 1726- 


Schelling, F. E. Elizabethan Drama, 2 vols. Boston and New York, 


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Shakespeare, with the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Com- 
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Sharpe, R. R. London and the Kingdom. 3 vols. London, 1894-1805. 

Sir Thomas More. Ed. A. Dyce. Shakspere Society Publications, vol. 
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tasters. Forschungen zur englischen Sprache und Litteratur, vol. I. 
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Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles I, 1625- 
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Statutes of the Realm. Record Commission. 9 vols, in 10. London, 1810- 

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Old Plays, vol. XV, pp. 399-431. 


Act abolishint Diversity in Opinions, 1530. 7 
Act for preventing profane use of holy names 

in plays, 10, 00 
Act of 1543 for the advancement of true 

religion. 7, 24 
Act of Uniformity, 1540, forbade interludes 
against Book of Common Prayer, 9; 
reenacted in 1550, 13-14 
Acte for the Punishement of Vacabondes, and 

for Relief of the Poore and Impotent, 27 
Actors not under good discipline, 8; status of, 
under Roman and English law, 21-22, 31, 
320; first classed with vagabonds, 25; 
held in high favor, 36; erring, punished 
leniently, 134; must have practice for 
royal performances, 150; realized their 
impending fate, 222; majority of, entered 
the King's army, 223. See also Players 
Admiral's company, The, taken into Prince 
Henry's service, 37; two plays licensed 
for, 57-58; authorized to play, 58, 189; 
expected to obey the Master, 60; at The 
Rose, 08; submitted to order of Lord 
Mayor, 176; building a new theater, 100; 
to occupy The Fortune, 191 
Alderman for Southwark never elected, 141 
Aldermen of London, see London 
Allen, Edward, in Earl of Worcester's com- 
pany, 32 
Alleyn, Edward, aided by Earl of Notting- 
ham, 100; and the Privy Council, 100, 191 
Alleyn and Henslowe's new theater, 190, 191 
Alsatia, name given to Whitefriars, 147 
Amboyna, Tortures of English at, not allowed 

in a play, 122 
Amends for Ladies, by Field, played at Ros- 

seter's theater, 201 
Ancre, Marquess d\ Play concerning the, 
prevented, 68, 113; responsibility for 
death of, assumed by Louis XIII, 113 
Andrewes, Rye', in Earl of Worcester's com- 
pany, 32 
Apology for Actors by Thomas Heywood, 132 
Apprentices, Insurrection by, against the 
French and Dutch, 94; some London, 
arrested for performing Taylor's The 
Hog hath Lost his Pearl, 112; demoralized 
by the theaters, 178, 187; armed house- 
holders on watch against, 180; attempt 
to pull down the Cockpit Theater, 217; 
attack of, on The Red Bull, 218 
Armyn, Robert, in the King's Men, 36 
Arthur, Prince of Wales, had company of 
players, 23 

Arundel's, Lord, company of players, 23; 
summoned before the Recorder, Fleet- 
wood, 169 

Ascham, Roger, on the Lord Mayor, 150-51 

Ashley, see Astley 

Astley, Sir John, granted reversion of Master- 
ship, 64; succeeds Buc, 65; special com- 
mission given to, 65; death of, 66 

Audience, Shakspere's, 1, 3; superior social 
status of, at Burbage's theater, 202, 204 

Aunay, Josias d', Warrant to, for playhouse, 

Bale, John, Famous play of, 6; chief Prot- 
estant writer of controversial plays, 8 
Ball, The, by Shirley and Chapman, censored, 


Ballad singers to be arrested, 227 

Banbury, Mayor of, arrested a company with 
two licenses, 41-42 

Bankside, Two Liberties bordering on the, 
142-43; under Justices of Surrey, 145; 
playhouse allowed at, 186 

Bankside playhouse, Privy Council on a 
seditious play at a, 97 

Bankside theaters, Players at, to contribute 
for poor of St. Saviour's parish, 60, 189; 
vagabonds frequent the, 183; ordered 
demolished, 188; again flourishing, 189 

Barmondsey Street, Precinct of, under Jus- 
tices of Surrey, 145 

Baraevelt, John of, Story of, dramatized, 114 

Barnnelt, Production of, forbidden by the 
Bishop of London, 19, 114; Buc's cor- 
rections to, 114-18; analysis of, 115-16 

Bear Garden, The, or Hope Theater, in the 
Liberty of the Clink, 143 

Bearbaiting, forbidden on the Sabbath, 20; 
power to license, 46; suppressed, 224 

Beaumont, M. de, on the popular feeling 
towards James I, 100; tried to prevent 
performance of Chapman's Biron's Con- 
spiracy and Tragedy, 105-6, 107-8 

Beaumont and Fletcher's A King and No 
King stopped by the sheriffs, 224; Wit 
Without Money performed, 225 

Beeston, Wiltiam, committed to the Mar- 
shalsea, 131; removed from charge of 
his Company, 132 

Beeston's, William, company of the King's 
and Queen's young players. Exclusive 
right of, to certain plays, 83 ; shows dis- 
respect to King and defiance of the 
Master, 68, 131-32 



Beggars. Definition of Sturdy, 14 Elizabeth, 
cap. 5, 20-30 

Believe as You List, by Massinger, refused a 
license by Herbert, 81; licensed on re- 
vision, 123; Gardiner on, 123-24 

Benger, Sir Thomas, a very inefficient Master, 
48, 50; death of, 50 

Berkeley, Henry, Letter of, on playing on 
Sunday, 209 

Bethan, Captain, appointed Provost Marshal, 

Bible, Tyndale's translation of, condemned, 7 

Bills of mortality, Increase of area covered by, 

Biron's Conspiracy and Tragedy, Trouble 
from, for Chapman, 105-7; Buc's refusal 
to license, for the press, 106; licensed 
after much mutilation, 107 

Blackfriars district exempt from Lord May- 
or's jurisdiction, 144; payments for re- 
pairs in, referred to a commission, 145; 
Lord Cobham named to preserve order 
in, 146; granted to the City, 146, 197, 200; 
rights of sanctuary in, 147; inhabited 
largely by Puritans, 147; plays in, 185; 
City protested against Rosseter's Theater 
in, 198-99 

Blackfriars Theater, 38, 76; appeal of in- 
habitants against, to Privy Council, 144, 
184-85, 201-2; question of, puzzling, 
185-87; excluded from orders for demoli- 
tion, 1 88; Children of the Chapel at, 187, 
195; commission on removal of, 203; 
playing at, stopped, 214; authorized 
theater of the Children of the Queen's 
Revels, 232; of the King's Company, 198, 
201, 233, 234 

Blagrave, Thomas, Clerk of the Revels, 
served as Acting Master, 48, 50 

Boar's Head in Eastcheap, Performances 
allowed at the, 194; authorized theater 
of Queen's Company, 231, 232 

Boar's Head without Aldgate, Players at, 
arrested, 12 

Bondman, The, by Massinger, Duke of Buck- 
ingham satirized in, 123 

Bonner, Bishop, of London, prohibited plays 
in churches, 42 

Book, the usual word for a play, 80 n 

Book of Common Prayer, Interludes deriding 
the, forbidden, 9, 13-14 

Book of Sports issued by James I, 20; ratified 

by Charles I, 20 
Bourchier, Henry, see Essex, Earl of 
Box at each theater furnished gratis to Her- 
bert, 76 
Boyle, R., on Barnevell, 115 
Boys with good voices taken from schools for 
the Chapel Royal, 32, 48, 51; forbidden 
to act in plays, 38 
Braynes, John, Indictment of, 160 
"Bridge Without," Ward of, 141 
Bristol, Messenger from Master's Office sent 
to, 73; Her Majesty's Servants of her 
Royal Chambers at, 233 

Brome's, Alexander, English Moor, played 
by the Queen's Company, 129 

Brooke, William, see Cobham, Lord 

Browne, Edward, in Earl of Worcester's 
company, 32 

Browne, Robert, in Earl of Worcester's com- 
pany, 32 

Buc, Sir George, appointed Master of the 
Revels to succeed Tilney, 62; as an 
author, 63; extended the Master's juris- 
diction, 63-64; licensed a playhouse in 
Whitefriars, 64, 73-74; censored and 
licensed plays, 65 ; death of, 66; censored 
the Second Maiden's Tragedy, 78; the 
first to license plays for printing, 64, 79, 
84; letter from Chapman to, on his 
refusal to license Biron for the press, 106; 
grants the license, 107; expurgations from 
the Second Maiden's Tragedy, 100-12, 118, 
134; his censorship of Sir John Van 
Olden Barnevell, 1 14-18; not unreasonably 
severe, 117. See also Herbert; Master 
of the Revels; Tilney 

Buc's Office Book, 46, 74, 75; burned, 66 n 

Buckingham headed movement against Spain, 
119, 122; portrayed in Game at Chess, 119; 
portrayed by Massinger, 123-24 

Buggin, suggests that workmen be compelled 
to serve the Revels Office, 48 

Building and fire laws, Germ of, 207 

Bull, The, in Bishopsgate St., 165 

Bullbaiting forbidden on the Sabbath, 20; 
power to license, 46 

Bullen, A. H., on Barne-velt, 116 

Burbage, James, in Earl of Leicester's com- 
pany, 33; and others driven to the 
Liberties, 158; indictment of, 160 

Burbage, Richard, in the King's Men, 36 

Burbage's private theater, see Blackfriars 

Burgess class, The wealthier, decidedly 
Puritan, 216 

Burghley, Lord, Three reports to, on re- 
organization of Revels Office, 48-40; 
letter of Lord Mayor to, 55, 176; letter 
from Fleetwood to, 94; Paris Garden 
disaster reported to, 165-66 

Calvert, Samuel, Letter of, to Winwood, on 

the boldness of actors, 10 1 
Cambridge, Scholars of, that go a-begging, 

Canterbury, Archbishop of, 13; requested to 
appoint a member of commission on cen- 
soring, 18, 55; requested by Aldermen of 
London to influence Tilney to stop plays, 
55-56, 179; arranged for players to con- 
tribute to parish poor, 60, 207; and Bishop 
of London sole censors and licensers of 
all printed books, 84; and Herbert, 126; 
stopped playing at Blackfriars in Lent, 214 
Canterbury, Mayor of, arrested actors, 12 
Cardinals, Comedy acted in defamation of, 6 
Castelain, M., attributes troubles of Jonson 
and Chapman to Sir Giles Goosecap, 104 


Catholic interludes, suppressed, 8-0; pag- 
eants presented at marriage of Mary and 
Philip, 10; action to prevent danger of 
sedition from, 13 

Cave, Andrew, and others, Patent to, 234 

Cawarden, Sir Thomas, Patent of appoint- 
ment of, as Master of the Revels, 47; 
superintended Elizabeth's coronation fes- 
tivities, 47 

Censor, The, and his work, 2, 61 ; the Master 
the sole, for London and about, 76; ex- 
amples of the work of, 93, 100-12; recom- 
mended by the Privy Council, 164; 
adopted by Lord Mayor, 165 

Censoring for sedition and heresy not for 
decency and morality, 13; instructions to 
officials in, 13-14; no revolution in, by 
appointment of the Master, 17; com- 
mission on, 18, 91 ; power of, conferred 
on the Master, 34, 50; exclusive right of, 
not rigorously enforced outside of London, 
82; arguments for, 86 

Censorship, Study of the nature of the, 3; 
in London under Elizabeth, 4, 13-18, 90- 
100; general history of, 1485-1642, 4-19; 
important step in history of governmental, 
7,24; in hands of officials, 8; first attempt 
to establish a definite system of, 9; ex- 
ercised by Justices of the Peace, 11-12; 
of public and private performances, 13; 
by local authorities, 15; working of the 
system, 15; in London, 16; conception 
of the power of, in 1589, 18; germ of the, 
in the Revels Office, 49; a most important 
function of the Master, 76; chapter on 
the nature of the, 80-136; idea of, differ- 
ent from that of to-day, 89; specimen of 
Tilney's, 93; specimens of Buc's, 109-12; 
notable case of, under Herbert, 118-22; 
effect of, on the drama, 134; what would 
the Elizabethan drama have been with- 
out the, 134-35; centralization of power 
through the, 148-49 

Censorship commission, A, appointed, 18, 55, 


Censorship of the press in London, 84 

Chamberlain, John, on tragedy of Goury, 101; 
on Game at Chess, 122 

Chambers, E. K., on common players, 25; 
on vagabonds, 31; on the Master's 
authority and on the Master of the Rolls, 
54; on the order prohibiting plays in the 
City, 158, 163; on petition of Queen's 
Majesty's Players, 171 

Chapel Boys, see Children of the Chapel 

Chapel Royal and St. Paul's, Choir boys 
selected for, 32 

Chapman, George, on Eastward Hoe given 
without ''allowance," 61; newly dis- 
covered letters of, 104; disrespect to 
foreign royalty of, 105; letter to the censor 
for refusal of press license, 106; Biron 
finally licensed, 107; indiscreet in repre- 
senting English royalty, 107 

Chapman's Biron, 101, 105-7 

Charles I, on abuses committed on Sunday, 
20; conditions under, differed from those 
under Elizabeth, 35; patron of a com- 
pany, 38; patents of monopoly sold under, 
39; project of marriage of, with the 
Infanta Maria, 118; visit of, to the 
Spanish court, 119; attitude of, towards 
Frederick, Elector Palatine, portrayed by 
Massinger, 122-23; suggested plot of the 
Gamester to Shirley, 127 n; helped Her- 
bert revise D'Avenant's Wits, 127; ex- 
purgated Massinger's King and Subject, 

Charles II offended at the Maid's Tragedy, 134 

Children of Her Majesty's Chapel, Privy 
Council required permit for the, 160 

Children of Paul's, Privy Council demand 
permit for, 160; not to play in Lent, 105 

Children of the Chapel, boy singers from the 
Chapel Royal, 32; Nathaniel Giles, Mas- 
ter of, 33; traveled, 36; forbidden to act 
in plays, 38, 196; appropriated The 
Spanish Tragedy, 83; acted undisturbed, 
195-96; allowed special privileges and 
status, 196 

Children of the Queen's Revels, Royal patent 
to, 19, 61, 198, 232; Chapel Boys ap- 
pointed, 37; Eastward Hoe presented 
by, 61; lost the Queen's patronage, 
105; in trouble for producing Biron' s 
Conspiracy and Bircn's Tragedy, 105; 
authorized to play in Rosseter's theater, 
199. 233 

Children of the Revels, Patent to the, 233 

Children used for dramatic purposes, 33; 
this use forbidden, 38 

Christmas fees, 74 

Christ's College, Cambridge, Pammachius 
performed at, 6 

Christus Triumplians of John Foxe, 8 

Church and state, Controversial treatment of 
affairs of, frowned upon, 90, 01-92 

Church-robe, Lender of a, to players, com- 
mitted to Marshalsea, 87 

Churches, Plays given in, 42 

City, see London 

Classes of society, What, withheld their 
approval from the drama, 138, 140 

Clerkenwell under Justices of Middlesex, 145, 

Clink, Manor or Liberty of the, 143 

Coaches, Press of, at Burbage's theater, 202, 
203; orders of Council regarding, 203; 
disturbance of public service by, 208; 
at The Fortune, 225 

Cobham, Lord (William Brooke), to preserve 
order in Blackfriars, 146; appointed Lord 
Chamberlain, 184; death of, 184, 189 

Cockpit Company paid for a Lenten license, 

Cockpit Theater. William Beeston's company 
at, 83, 131; D'Avenant put in charge of 
the, 206; damaged by apprentices, 217; 
soldiers arrest players at, 227; D'Avenant's 
Opera at the, 229 


Coke, Justice, on players' rights to perform, 
40 n; on Rosseter's patent, 199-200 

Coke, Thomas, in Earl of Worcester's com- 
pany, 32 

Come See a Wonder acted at Red Bull, 77 

Commission on removal of Blackfriars 
theater, 203 

Commissioners for Religion, Three, give 
license for printing books, 84 

Commissions, Various, 48-49, 50 

Common Prayer, see Divine service 

Companies, see Players 

Company of strangers appearing in 1623, 68, 

Condell, Henry, in the King's Men, 36 
Controversy over the stage, Effect of, on the 

Puritans, 2 
Cornwallis, Thomas, granted a dispensing 

patent to license gambling-houses, 45 
Cotton, John, and others. Failure of, to secure 

patents for theater in Lincoln's Inn Fields, 


Council, The royal, and the municipal gov- 
ernment, 2. See also Privy Council 

Court, High Commission, complained of Jon- 
son's Magnetic Lady, 126 

Court entertainments, Master of the Revels in 
charge of, 16, 17, 44; given by outside 
companies, 23; managing of, an important 
duty, 46; the sole concern of the Master, 
48; companies used for, granted special 
privileges, 58 

Coventry, The players of, appear at Leicester, 


Cowley, Abraham, Herbert licenses a book 
of verses by, 85 

Cowlye, Richard, in the King's Men, 36 

Cranmer, Interlude played at house of, 6 

Cromwell, Richard, ordered an investigation 
of D'Avenant's opera, 229 

Cromwell, Thomas, used stage as weapon in 
Protestant cause, 6 

Crosse Keys, Punishment of Lord Strange's 
Company for playing at, 176-77; Lord 
Hunsdon asked permission for his com- 
pany to play at, 182, 207 

Crown, Licensing power limited to the, alone, 
28, 35, 45 ; autocratic power exercised by 
the, 34; extended system of formal 
patents, 36; licensing power of, obeyed 
in London, 40; authority of, paramount, 
148; dealings of, with the Corporation of 
London, 149, 150-51 

Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru, by D'Ave- 
nant, produced at The Cockpit, 219 

Curtain, The, to be torn down, 60; Justices 
of Middlesex to censor plays at, 18, 60, 
100, 192; not especially under the Master, 
61; in the Liberty of Holywell, 143; 
erected in 1576, 158; plays at, suppressed 
in Lent, 160; denounced, 160, 168; Lord 
Mayor requests pulling down of, 169; 
survived, 170; ordered demolished, 187, 
191; authorized theater of the Queen's 
Company, 231, 232 

Daniel, John, Letters of Assistance granted 
to, for his provincial children's company, 
210, 233 

Daniel, Samuel, to approve plays, 19, 61; 
Buc's consent to patent to, 64 

Dates expressed in the new style, v 

D'Avenant, Sir William, Patent granted to, 
for a new theater, 43, 205-6; Herbert's 
censoring of the Wits by, 127-28; put in 
charge of King's and Queen's young Com- 
pany, 132; put in charge of The Cock- 
pit, 206; devised a new entertainment at 
Rutland House, 229; his Siege of Rhodes, 
229; The Cruelly of the Spaniards in 
Peru at The Cockpit, 229 

Davenport's History of Henry the First 
licensed, 81 

David, John, and company, License for, re- 
fused to Earl of Warwick, 165 

Daye's, John, Come See a Wonder, acted, 77; 
Isle of Gulls, 101 

De Meretrice Babylonica of Edward VI, 8 

Decency and morality, Censoring not con- 
cerned with, 13, 134; Puritan care for, in 
London, 16; Puritan notions of, did not 
affect the Master, 89; or the censor, no, 
127; City Council's concern for, 156 

Deity, Use of name of, in plays, forbidden, 
19, 90 

Dekker, Thomas, devised a Lord Mayor's 
show, 217 

Derby's, Earl of, company of players, 22; 
at Leicester, 26 

Disorder or contempt of authority, objects of 
censorship, 89-90, 94 

Disorders, incident to play-houses, 55-56, 
156-57; great, at the theaters, 178, 183- 
84,190-91; less frequent, 197; ordinance 
against, 226 

Divine service, Performances during, for- 
bidden, 34, 158, 164, 165, 199, 208 

Dixon, Thomas, see Cotton, John 

Dobell, S., on the Jonson and Chapman 
letters, 104 

Doctrines in question. Discussion of, forbid- 
den, 5; unauthorized by the King sup- 
pressed, 7-8; forbidden by Mary, 10-11 

Donne's, John, Paradoxes, Printing of, 
licensed by Herbert, 85 

Drama, Government regulation of the, under 
the Tudors and Stuarts, 1; general 
regulation of the, by the central govern- 
ment, 3, 4-43; flourishing in in 
1485, 4; used for controversial purposes, 
5; approved when supporting views of the 
Crown, 6; serious trouble with the, 9; 
removed from political and religious con- 
troversy, 15; powers of Master of the 
Revels over the, 17, 44-46; patented 
companies holding monopoly of, 68; all 
regulation of, under royal patents and 
Master of the Revels, 107; victory for the 
City would have hindered development 
of the, 198 

Dramatists, The, without the censorship, 134; 


would have been more scurrilous, 135; 

were spokesmen of the dominant party, 

Drousiano, Italian comedian, Privy Council 

requests a permit for, 150 
Drugs, Sale of, licensed by Herbert, 70, 72 
Dudley, Sir Robert (Earl of Leicester), 

Letter of, to the Earl of Shrewsbury, 

concerning his players, 15, 26 
Dyer, Sir Edward, and his extortion for 

grants, 45 
Dymock, Sir Edward, and others, Case 

against, in the Star Chamber, 108 

East India Company, ordered picture of tor- 
tures of the English at Amboyna, 122 

East Smithfield, Precinct of, 146 

Eastward Hoe presented by Children of the 
Queen's Revels, 61; attack on the Scotch 
in, 101-2; caused Jonson's imprisonment, 
102, 103, 104 

Edict of 1533, so-called, an error, 5 

Edward VI approved extreme Protestantism, 
8; wrote a comedy De Meretrice Baby- 
lonica, 8; ceded to the City all royal 
liberties and franchises in Southwark, 141; 
regulation of drama during reign of, 9, 
Hi 152 

Elector Palatine's Company, Patent to, 64, 

Elizabeth, Lady, patron of a company, 38 

Elizabeth, Queen, The memorable Poor Laws 
of, 1, 24, 27; economic system of monopo- 
lies under, 1 ; situation in dramatic world 
at opening of reign of, 13, 90-91; procla- 
mation of, concerning plays, 14-15. 152; 
conciliatory policy of, 15, 91; proclama- 
tion concerning the companies of noble- 
men, 26; royal patent to Earl of Leices- 
ter's company, 33-34, 49; patents of 
monopoly granted under, 39; grants a 
special commission to Edmund Tilney, 51; 
authority of Revels Office at end of reign 
of, 61; not averse to representation of 
current political events, 91; fondness of, 
for character of Falstaff, 96; and the 
Essex conspiracy, 08-09; a character in 
Biroris Conspiracy, 107; fondness of, for 
dramatic performances, 149, 155, 160, 
164, 179, 191; driven from London by the 
plague, 162; common plays not fit for, 
173; all plays suppressed five days before 
death of, 106 

Elizabethan drama, Effect of the censorship 
on the, 89, 134-35; essentially non-con- 
troversial, 135; hopelessly abhorrent to 
decency and morality, 229, 230 

Elizabethan theaters, Investigation into con- 
ditions surrounding the, 1 ; bitter attacks 
on the, 3. See Theaters 

Endymion, Veiled symbolism discovered in, 91 

English Moor, The, by A. Brome, played by 
the Queen's Company, 129 

English plays prohibited for three months, 

English Poor L-iw based on Statutes of 

Elizabeth, 24 
Essex conspiracy, Noblemen of the, 3; case 

of the, 08-99 
Essex, Earl of, Execution of the, 99 
Essex's, Earl of, company of players, 22; 

Privy Council demand a permit for, 160 
Evening prayer, Plays allowed after, on Holy 

Days, 20, 164, 165, 174, 208 
Exeter, Mayor of, refused a company of men 

holding a patent for children, 41 

Falstaff, Character of, 06 

Famous Victories of Henry V, 96 

Fee for licensing a play, 79, 81 

Field's, Nathaniel, Amends for Ladies per- 
formed at Rosseter's playhouse, 201 

Fines to be devoted to the poor and sick, 158, 

Fleare, The, entered in Stationer's Register 
licensed by Buc, 84 

Fleay, F. G., on intervention of the Bishop, 
19 n; conjecture of, 58 n, 97 n; sugges- 
tion of, 65; on "licensing of a book," 79, 
80; plays entered in Stationers' Register 
tabulated by, 84 n; on Sir Thomas More, 
94 n; on Day's Isle of Gulls, 101; on the 
imprisonment of Jonson and Chapman, 
104; on title to Second Maiden's Tragedy, 
109 n; on inn-yard performances, 183 n; 
on suppression of plays, 188; on laxity of 
restriction, ig4; on Rosseter's patent, 199; 
on the plague, 213; on the Patent to the 
Queen's Company, 231-32 

Fleetwood, Letter of, to Burghley, on ap- 
prentices' insurrection, 94; on disciplining 
noblemen's players, 160-70 

Fletcher, Lawrence, in the King's Men, 36 

Fletcher's, John, Loyal Subject, revived by 
King's Company, 82; Woman's Prize, or 
The Tamer Tamed, 124-26 

Flower of Friendship, The, by Edmund 
Tilney, 50 

Foreign nations, Anything reflecting on, 
censored, 00 

Foreign residents, Insurrection against, de- 
picted in Sir Thomas More, 93, 94 

Fortune, The, licensed to Henslowe, 59, 61; 
to take place of The Curtain, 60, 191; a 
privileged theater, 61; price of license per 
month, 73 ; rope dancers at, 75 ; players at, 
fined for disrespect shown to religion, 130; 
in the Liberty of Finsbury, 143; erection 
of, 189; coaches at, 225; authorized 
theater of the Prince's Company, 232; of 
the Elector's Company, 232 

Foxe, John, wrote a Christus Triumphans, 8 

Foxe's Martyrologie, 5 

France, Queen of, satirized by Chapman, 

Franchise, Municipal, in control of the guilds, 

Frederick, Elector, took over Prince Henry's 
players, 38 

Freedom of the city, how obtained, 138 


Freemen voted for aldermen and councilmen 

of London, 138 
French, Popular feeling against the, 04-95 
French comedians performed at The Cockpit, 

205; secured royal warrant for another 

playhouse in Drury Lane, 205 
French players, 23, 39; had special royal 

permission, 68; to play in Lent, 75-76; 

subject to the Master's orders, 77 

Game at Chess disapproved by Privy Council, 
68; Middleton's expression of popular 
hatred of Spain in the, 119; licensed and 
suppressed, 119; Secretary Conway's let- 
ter to Privy Council on the, 110-20; copy 
of, licensed by Herbert, 120; playing of, 
forbidden, 121; exceptional popularity of, 
lig, 122, 135 

Gamester, The, by Shirley, Plot of, suggested 
by Charles I, 127 n 

Gaming, Herbert's efforts for right to license, 

Gaming-houses, Thomas Cornwallis granted 
a patent to license, 45 

Gardiner, S. R., on the Political elements in 
Massinger, 123-24 

Gardiner, S., Bishop, offended by anti-papal 
tragedy Pammachius, 6 

Garrard, George, Letter of, to Wentworth, 
on the new regulation, 203; on conflict of 
jurisdictions, 214 

Gentlemen, Mere, not allowed licensing 
power, 26, 27 

Gentry, The censor's consideration for the 
feelings of the, in 

Giles, Nathaniel, Master of the Chapel Chil- 
dren, Complaint against, 33; warrant to, 
forbids children acting in plays, 38 

Globe Theater, The, 3, 37, 38; profit on 
performance of Pericles at, given to Her- 
bert, 76; performance of Ricliard II at, 
for the Essex conspirators, 98-99; 
Game at Chess acted at, 119; in the 
Liberty of the Clink, 143; constructed 
from material of The Theater, 188 n ; 
selected by the Lord Chamberlain's 
Company, 191; authorized theater of 
the King's Company, 201, 231, 233, 
234; closed on account of expected riot, 

Gloucester, Duke of, see Richard III 

Golding Lane, Playhouse allowed at, 186, 100, 

Gondomar, Spanish ambassador, Popular 
hatred of, 1 18-19; personated in the 
Game at Chess, 119, 121 

Gosson's Sclwols of Abuse, 159, 209, 219; 
Playes Confuted, 219 

Government, Remarks hostile to, censored, 90 

Gowry produced by the King's Company, 
100-1; references to, 115 

Great Duke of Florence, The, by Massinger, 
portrayed the Duke of Buckingham, 123 

Great Seal, Patents granted under the, 33- 
34. 49. 155. 198, 231, 232, 233 

Grindal, E., Bishop of London, appealed to 

Privy Council to stop all plays, 152, 211; 

a representative Puritan, 215 
Guild rights, Strange relics of, 2 
Guilds, Cycles of mysteries presented by 

trades, 22; organization and functions of 

the, 138-39 
Gunpowder Plot, Reference to, 115 
Gunter's house, a meeting place of the Essex 

conspirators, 99 

Haysell, chief player of Earl of Worcester's 
company, 53-54 

Hayward purchased deputyship from Her- 
bert, 86 

Hennings, John, in the King's Men, 36; paid 
Herbert for a courtesy, 76 

Henry IV first produced, 06 

Henry VII, had company of players, 4, 23 

Henry VIII, Policies of, aroused spirit of 
revolt, 5; letter of, to Justice of the Peace 
in York, 6-7; reaction of, against Prot- 
estantism, 7; had a company of players, 
23; proclamation of, against vagabonds, 
25; on the liberties of Blackfriars, 144 

Henry, Prince, took over the Admiral's 
players, 37; death of, 38 

Henryson, William, in Earl of Worcester's 
company, 32 

Henslowe, P., manager of The Rose, paid 
license fees to Tilney, 57, 79; paid for 
license of The Fortune, 59; loans of, to 
the Company, 80 

Henslowe's Diary, Discussion of entries in, 
79-80; forgeries in, on Nash's Isle of 
Dogs, 98 

Her Majesty's Players, Company of, selected 
by Tilney, 32, 166-67; performed within 
Mayor's jurisdiction, 168-69; before the 
Recorder, 169; number and names of, 
demanded by City authorities, 174. See 
also Queen's Majesty's Players, Queen's 

Her Majesty's Servants of her Royal Chamber 
at Bristol, 38; patent to, 233 

Herbert, Sir Henry, Master of the Revels, 
Intermeddling of, in dramatic affairs, 46; 
claims of, under patent as Master, 47; 
cites Tilney, 60; claims based on patents 
granted, 64, 66 n; purchased Reveis 
Office, 65, 87; family of, 66; Office at 
height of power under, 66; his suit after 
the Restoration, 66 n; received orders to 
suppress plays during plague, 68; limita- 
tion of jurisdiction of, 68-69; sold special 
licenses, 60; requires Mayor of Maidstone 
to uphold his license, 71-72; tries to ex- 
tend powers of Office, 72-73; benefit per- 
formances and fees for, 74-75; gratuities 
to, from players, 76; claimed that fee was 
for trouble in reading a play, 81; burned 
a play, 81; gives greater care to old 
plays, 82; licensed plays entered in 
Stationers' Register, 85; before the Star 
Chamber for licensing Donne's Para- 


doxes, 85; statements of, as to his receipts, 
87-88; death of, 88; "reformations" of, 
11S; held responsible for licensing Game 
at Chess, 120; saved by Pembroke, 121; 
threatened King's players for performing 
the Sfomsh Viceroy without license, 77, 
taa; letter of, to Mr. Knight, 12s; had 
trouble about Jonson'sMagneticLady, 126; 
commends Shirley's young Admiral, 127; 
his ''reformation" of D'Avenant's Wits 
revised by King Charles, 127-28; energy 
of, in eliminating oaths, 128-20; on King 
Charles' expurgation of Massinger's King 
and Subject, 120-30; last entry in his 
Office Book, 132 

Herbert's Office Book, 64; portions of, sur- 
vive, 66; entry regarding license to King's 
Company, 60; warrant entries in, 70; 
gratuity mentioned in, 76; shows receipts 
for licensing books of poetry, 85; on 
Beeston's Company, 131; plague entries 
in. 213 

Herbert's Register, see Herbert's Office Book 

Heywood, Thomas, sums up errors against 
which dramatists must be on guard, 132- 
33; devised a Lord Mayor's show, 217 

Historia Histrionica on persistency of the 
players, 227 

History of Henry the First by Davenport 
licensed, 81 

History of the Duchess of Suffolk full of 
dangerous matter, 81 

Histriomastix, William Prynne's, 76; full 
tide-page of, 220 

Hog, The, hath Lost his Pearl, by Taylor, 
Some actors of, imprisoned, 1 12-13; 
licensed by Buc, 112, 133 

Holbom under the Justices of Middlesex, 145, 

Holinshed on proclamation by Elizabeth, 14 

Holland House at Kensington, Plays per- 
formed at, 227 

Holmes, Request of the Lord Chamberlain for 
a right for, to license playing-places, 153-54 

Holy Days, Plays forbidden on, until after 
evening prayer, 164, 165, 174, 208 

Holy names, Act forbidding profane use of, 
in plays, 10-20, 00 

Honest Man's Fortune, The, revived on 
entreaty of Joseph Taylor, 82 

Hope or Bear Garden, The, in the Liberty of 
the Clink, 143 

Hours of performances, Regulation of, 20, 34, 
164, 165, 174, 182, 100, 208 

Householders, Armed watch of, organized, 
145, 180 

Howard, Henry, Earl of Northampton, 
accused Jonson of "poperie and treason," 

Hull, The players of, appear in Leicester, 27 

Hunsdon, George, Lord, signer of petition 
against Blackfriars playhouse, 185; made 
Lord Chamberlain, 180 

Hunsdon, Lord, head of commission on gov- 
ernment of Blackfriars and Whitefriars, 

145; owner of The Theater claimed pro- 
tection of, against Recorder Fleetwood, 
160-70; request of, for his company to 
play at Cross Keys, 182-83; death of, 184 

Indebtedness,- Acknowledgment of, v-vi 

Inhabitants of London, Number of, 140 

Injunctions of 1550, 84 

Inn-yard performances, Conditions surround- 
ing, 156; suppressed, 165 

Inn-yards, Demand for license to play in, 153; 
plays given in, 159; Queen's Players ask 
leave to act in, 171; plays in, 175; plays 
stopped in, 184, 192, 197 

Inns of Court, Plays by the young lawyers of, 

Insurrection, Censor objects to references to, 

Interludes, Playing of, forbidden, 5; to spread 

Protestant doctrine encouraged by officials, 

6; prohibited for three months, 8-9, 14; 

forbidden on the Sabbath, 20 
Isle of Dogs by T. Nash, Privy Council on 

the, 97-98 
Isle of Gulls, by John Day, 101 
Italian players, Privy Council requested a 

permit for, from the Mayor, 153, 159 

James I, Economic system of monopolies 
under, 1; accession of, 18; issued the 
Book of Sports, 20; conditions under, 
differed from those under Elizabeth, 35; 
issued patent to Shakspere's Company as 
the King's Men, 36-37; patents of 
monopoly sold under, 39; position of 
Master of Revels strengthened under, 61; 
boldness of players in early years of reign 
of, 100-8; popular attitude towards, 100; 
references to, in Bamevell, unfailingly re- 
spectful, 115; friendship of, with Spain, 
1 18-19; plays stopped two days before 
arrival of, in London, 196; issued and 
stayed order for patent to John Cotton, 204 

Jesuit plotting set forth by Middleton in his 
Game at Chess, 119 

John, King, An interlude touching, played at 
house of Cranmer, 6 

Johnes, Rye', in Earl of Worcester's com- 
pany, 32 

Johnson, One, paid by Leicester officials not 
to collect penalty for unlawful games, 57 

Johnson, William, in Earl of Leicester's 
company, 33 

Joiners, A company of, in trouble, for playing 
on Sunday, 151 

Jones, Inigo, complained of being represented 
in Jonson's Tale of a Tub, 124 

Jonson, Ben, granted reversion of the Master- 
ship, 64-65; imprisoned for writing against 
the Scots in Eastward Hoe, 102, 103; 
various incarcerations of, because of his 
plays, 102-5; the Poetaster, 102-3; 
Sejanus, 103; banqueted his friends, 103; 
newly discovered letters of, 104, 104 n; 
chronologer of London, 217 


Jonson's Bartholomew Fair ridicules inter- 
preting plays, 133 

Jonson's Magnetic Lady, Players made inter- 
polations in, 78; licensed, 81; offensive 
personalities and oaths in, 126 

Jonson's Tale of a Tub censored, 134 

Justices of Essex reprimanded, 12 

Justices of Middlesex directed to exercise 
censorship, 18; Master of the Rolls one 
of the, 54; to stop plays in London, 58; 
ordered to enforce rules, 60; to censor 
plays at The Curtain, 60, 100, 192; to 
suppress all plays in Lent, 160, 210; 
appealed to by the Lord Mayor, 160-61; 
form of order sent to, 180-81; ordered to 
stop plays and demolish theaters, 187; 
opposed to Alleyn and Henslowe's new 
theater, 190 

Justices of the Peace, Two, to try cases for 
spreading unorthodoxy, 8; ordered to exer- 
cise censorship over plays, 11-12, 13, 14; 
to punish vagabonds, 26; two could 
license players, 27, 30 

Justices of the Peace of Surrey ordered to 
suspend performances in theaters, 54, 58, 
175; to demolish theaters, 188; to guard 
against riot at The Globe, 204 

Kentish Street, Precinct of, under Justices of 
Surrey, 145 

Killigrew, Thomas, became Master after 
death of Herbert, 88 

King, A, and No King, by Beaumont and 
Fletcher, stopped by sheriffs, 224 

King and Subject, by Massinger, expurgated 
by King Charles, 129; Herbert on, 120-30 

King, the, Nothing to be printed in English 
without permission of, 9; defamation of, 
to be punished, 9, 90; commands of, 
transmitted to players through the Mas- 
ter, 67; allowed French company to play 
in Lent, 75-76; Beaumont complains of 
players satirizing the English, 107-8; dis- 
respect to, shown by Beeston's Company, 

King's Company of Players, The, 4; af 
Leicester, 26; patent issued to Shakspere's 
Company as the King's Men, 36-37, 231; 
other patents modeled on, 38; to play also 
at Blackfriars, 38; under the Master's 
authority, 64; patent of, to travel, 69; 
Herbert's warrant of protection to, 69-70; 
gave benefits for Herbert, 74, 76; paid 
Christmas and Lenten fees, 74-75, an; 
apology to Herbert for acting The Spanish 
Viceroy, 77; licensed Davenport's His- 
tory of Henry the First, 81 ; Winter's Tale 
revived by, without fee, 81; Tamer 
Tamed revived by, suppressed by Herbert, 
82; Fletcher's Loyal Subject revived by, 
82; took The Malcontent of the Chapel 
Children, 83; paid Herbert to forbid the 
playing of Shakspere, 83; plays of, printed 
without their consent, 85; indiscreet in 
producing Gowry, 100-1; acted Game at 

Chess at The Globe, 119; forbidden to 
play, 120; restored to favor, 121; at 
Burbage's playhouse, 198, 201; new 
patent to, authorizing playhouse at Black- 
friars, 202; plague provisions in patents 
to, 212-13; patents to, 36-37, 231, 233, 

King's Council, Any two of the, authorized 
to try cases for unauthorized views, 8 

Kings, modern Christian, Players forbidden 
to represent, 90, 101, 107, 119; reference 
to vices of, censored, 109-10 

Kirkhara, Edward, and others, Warrant to, 

Knight, Letter of Herbert to, 125 

Kyd, Thomas, arrested, imprisoned, and 
tortured, 95; released, 96 

Laborers, Statutes of, against vagabonds, 24 

Lady Elizabeth's Company in Rosseter's 
theater, 199, 233; acted Amends for 
Ladies, 201; patent to, 233 

Lady Mother, The, licensed by Blagrave, 78 

Lady Saunder's house in Blackfriars, 199, 

Lambarde, William, and Queen Elizabeth on 
the Essex conspiracy, 99 

Lanham, John, in Earl of Leicester's com- 
pany, 33 

Latin plays not under censorship, 13 

Lau, Hurfries de, Warrant to, for a playhouse, 

Laud, Appeal to Bishop, against Blackfriars 
theater, 202-3 

Laws and regulations, national and local, 
affecting the drama, 1; how their develop- 
ment is shown, 3; national, 4-43; passed 
to make profitable grants of right to break, 

Lea, Robert, and others, Patent to, 233 
Leather, Sale of grants to break regulations 

made about tanning, 45 
Leek, Sir Francis, claimed as patron by a 

company of players, 25; his livery and 

badge worn, 31-32 
Le Febure, M., King's warrant to, for theater 

in Drury Lane, 205 
Legislation and regulation, Development of, 

3; on the content of plays, 7; reserved 

licensing of plays to Crown and Privy 

Council, 13; general, affecting licensing 

of plays, 10-21; possibilities of evasion 

of, 41 
Leicester, Earl of, a representative Puritan, 


Leicester, Many traveling companies appeared 
in, 26; companies under license of Master 
of Revels at, 35, 40, 70; payments at, for 
players' right to perform, 40; noblemen's 
licenses accepted in, 41; company at, 
with license from Tilney in 1583, 53, 70; 
no other under license of blaster at, till 
1623, 54, 70; officials of, paid one John- 
son for not collecting penalty for unlawful 
games, 57 


Ix-icester's, Earl of, Company, 15; royal 
patent issued to, 16, 155. mi; copy of 
patent, 33-34. I55i 208; company 
afterwards Shakspere's, 33; granted 
special favors under the Master, 49-50, 
58; performed at The Theater, 158; 
Privy Council required permit for, 160; 
mistaken for Queen's by Collier, 171 

Lennox, Duke of, Company authorized by, 
41 n 

Lent. Regulations regarding eating flesh in, 
enforced, 54 n; Council issued orders for 
closing theaters in, 68; performances 
allowed in, by special license from the 
Master, 44, 75; and King, 75-76; first 
law against performances in, 160; rule 
against performances in, 192, 210-11 

Lenten dispensations, 74, 75, 211 

Lenten performances distasteful to the Puri- 
tans, 76, 200, 211 

Letters of Assistance granted to John Daniel, 
210, 233 

Liberties of Blackfriars and Whitefriars, 
144-48; no officials in charge of, 145; 
finally under jurisdiction of the Lord 
Mayor, 146; exemptions for inhabitants 
of. 147 

Liberties, on Middlesex side of the Thames, 
north of the wall, 143; puzzling, scat- 
tered through the City proper, 143-45; 
players seek refuge in the, 158-59; Mayor 
begged that plays be stopped in the, 161 

Liberty, A, and "Liberties" defined, 142 

Liberty of Finsbury, The Fortune theater 
in the, 143; under Middlesex Justices, 
144; inhabitants of, approve of a new 
playhouse, 100 

Liberty of Holywell, Theaters in the, 143, 
158; under Middlesex Justices, 144 

Liberty of the Clink, Three theaters in the, 
143; under Justices of Survey, 145; 
Sunday law violated in, 175, 209 

License, A formal written, granted, 28; 
copy of, granted by Earl of Worcester, 32 

Licenses, All, abolished by Parliament, 226 

Licenses, noblemen's, Abolition of, 35, 38; 
law against, not fully enforced, 40-41 

Licenses, Royal, bought and sold, 31 n, 
41-42; less formal, granted indirectly, 
34, 36; various, sold by the Master, 69, 


Licensing "of a book" probably meant for 
performance, 70-80 

Licensing of players, 4, 21-42; letter of Sir 
Robert Dudley asking for, 15; authority 
over, given to Master of the Revels, 16- 
17; no provision for, by statute till 1572, 21 ; 
grew out of their protection as retainers 
of nobles, 22; first definite system of, 
24; operation, 26, 27; authority for, 
limited to the Crown, 28, 45; more 
regularity and rigor in, 31; monopoly to 
favored companies, 36; company with a 
commission under the Great Seal of Eng- 
land, 41 

Licensing of playing places, 4, 45-43; au- 
thority over, given to the Master, 16-17; 
earliest, an affair of the church, 42, 
Crown and Privy Council supreme in, 
42; royal patents extended to, 43; fads 
concerning, not clear. 7 \; monthly fees 
for, not [xiid under Herbert, 74; request 
for grant of privilege of, to one Holmes, 
153; letter from Mayor and Corporation 
in reply, 154 

Licensing of plays, 4-21; first delegation of 
the power of, 12; system of, established 
by Elizabeth, 14-15; authority of Master 
of the Revels over, 17; general legisla- 
tion affecting the, 19-21; in London, 
52, 157-58; a most important function 
of the Master, 76; fee received for, 79 

Licensing power, Absolute, over plays, 
players, and playhouses, 2, 3; exercised 
by Justices of the Peace and local officers, 
11-12; granted to Master of the Revels, 
16-17; concentration of, in the Crown, 
33> 3S~3 '. germ of the Master's, 49; no 
effort made to extend, 50; Herbert tried 
to make his, general and exclusive, 72-73 

Lieutenant of the Tower, 146 

Lincoln, Henry, Earl of, Case of, against Sir 
Edward Dymock and others, for a libel- 
lous performance, 108 

Lincoln's Inn Fields, Attempts to secure a 
theater at, 204-5 

Livery Companies, Government of London 
in hands of the, 138; twelve great guilds 
called, 138, 139; names of, misleading, 
139; membership largely of non-crafts- 
men, 139; members of the upper middle 
class, 140 

Locke, Thomas, Letters of, to Carleton, on 
the performance of Barnnell, 1 14 

London, Long controversy over plays in, 
2, 3; confused organization of govern- 
ment of, 2; local regulations in, 3; cen- 
sorship in, 4; English plays forbidden in, 
9; Privy Council, requests that plays be 
allowed in, 17, 42; Master of the Revels 
censor in, 18; Earl of Leicester's Company 
to play in, 34; royal favor secured privi- 
leges in, 35; arrival of James in, 36; 
monopoly of playing in, 39; admission 
of actors into, 53; suppression of plays in, 
54. 55, 58, 108, 176, 181; chapter on 
local regulations in, 1 543-1 792, 137-77; 
municipal government and topographical 
limits of, 137; constitution of the city 
government, 137-38; controlled by the 
upper middle class, 140; topographical 
limits of, 140-41; maps of, 140 n; di- 
visions of, 141; Liberties of, 142; new 
charter granted to, by James I, 146-47; 
conflict concerning admission of plays into, 
140; first expression of Puritan attitude 
in, 152; chapter on local regulations in, 
1502-1642, 178-214; our sympathy 
with, in the struggle, 198; a great center 
of Puritanism, 216 


London, Aldermen of, call on Archbishop of 
Canterbury to influence Tilney to stop 
[days, 55-56, 170; complain of being 
libeled at The Red Bull, 130-31; one 
alderman chosen annually from each 
ward, 138 

London, Bishop of, as Ordinary, 12-13, i5 2 ', 
forbade production of Barnevell, 19, 114; 
arranged for players to contribute for 
parish poor, 60, 207; and Archbishop of 
Canterbury, censors and licensers of 
printed books, 84; unsuccessful appeal to 
Laud against Burbage's theater, 203 

London, City authorities of, opposed to plays, 
150-51, 154; sometimes lax, 151; 
overridden by patent to Earl of Leicester's 
players, 33-34, 155; order of December 
6, 1574, 156, 174, 207; chief arguments 
of, against plays, 156-57; orders of, 
prohibiting plays, 158-59, 163-64; re- 
sume war against plays, 160; character- 
istically Puritan, 164; suppressed inn- 
yard performances, 166; reply to petition 
of Queen's players, 171-74; letter of 
disputing players' Articles, 172-73; the 
Remedies, 173, 174; made no effort to 
suppress unlawful plays, 194-95; gave 
way to royal regulation and authoriza- 
tion, 197; complained against Rosseter's 
Theater, 199 

London Common Council, Order of, on 
censorship, 15-16; not carried out con- 
sistently, 17; complains of abuse of 
special privileges, 41; given orders by 
Privy Council, 42 ; four councilmen chosen 
annually from each ward, 138; ordinance 
of 1574 regulating dramatic performances 
in London, 156-58, 159; orders of, 
against plays, 160, 163-64 

London, Corporation of, opposed to Master 
of the Revels, 52; how controlled by the 
Livery Companies, 138; officially sub- 
mitted to royal will in dramatic matters, 
149; ordered Burbage's theater closed, 202 

London drama, Master of Revels supervising 
the, 54, 55; regulation of, in reigns of 
Edward VI and Mary, 152 

London, "Liberties" of, defined, and their 
location, 142-45 

London, Lord Mayor of. Endeavors of the, 
to suppress theaters, 2-3; ordered to 
arrest players and stop plays, 12; to 
appoint censors, 16, 17, 52; requested to 
name member of commission on censor- 
ing, 18, 55; ordered to suspend per- 
formances, 54; efforts of, to buy off 
licensing plays, 56-57; ordered to enforce 
rules, 60; to suppress plays in Lent, 
60, 210; elected annually, i.}8; theaters 
erected just outside the jurisdiction of 
the, 140; boundaries of jurisdiction of, 
140-41; took formal possession of South- 
wark, 141; orders sent to, by Privy 
Council, 58, 144, 145; jurisdiction of, 
148; guardian of morals of citizens, 

150; Roger Ascham on the, 151; appeals 
of, to Privy Council, against actors, 151; 
letter of, and Corporation, to the Lord 
Chamberlain, on right to license playing 
places, 154, 206; asked by Council for 
reasons for restraining plays, 154-55; 
required to admit the comedy players 
within the City, 155-56; reproof to the 
puritanical, from the Council, 156; ap- 
peals to Privy Council against The Theater, 
161-62; demands of noblemen on, 165; 
requested the Court to suppress The 
Theater and The Curtain, 169; dif- 
ficulty of, in stopping plays in London, 
176; demands suppression of all plays 
in and about the City, 183-84, 187, 
192; censured by the Lords for not en- 
forcing orders, 193; ordered by Parlia- 
ment to suppress plays, 224 

London stage. Royal and municipal legis- 
lation affecting the, 198; summary of 
chief lines of legislation on the, 206-14 

Long Parliament, Ordinances of the, 3, 218, 

Lord Chamberlain, Master of Revels subordi- 
nate to the, 16, 47, 85; exercised authority 
over the drama, ig; issued tickets of 
privilege, 39, 69 n; in charge of the Sov- 
ereign's amusements, 46; G. Chapman's 
letter to, 61; "Declaration of the Ancient 
Powers of the [Revels] Office," 65; order 
of, for suppression of plays, 68; order 
that all players must have license from 
the Master, 73; confirms to Wm. Beeston's 
Company right to certain plays, 83; 
on Jonson's Tale of a Tub, 124; order 
regarding Wm. Beeston's Company, 
131; request of, for grant to license 
playing-places for one Holmes, 153; 
conflict with Bishop of Canterbury, 214 

Lord Chamberlain's Company (Shakspere's), 
Patent issued to, as the King's Mm, 
36-37, 231; authorized to play, 58, 189; 
expected to obey the Master, 60; The 
Spanish Tragedy of the, appropriated 
by the Chapel Children, 83; and the 
Essex conspiracy, 98-99; played before 
Queen Elizabeth, 99; Privy Council 
require permit for, 160; ask permission 
to play at Cross Keys, 182-83, 207, 208; 
selected The Globe, iqi, 231 

Lord Chancellor advised against patent for 
theater in Lincoln's Inn Fields, 205 

Lord Govertuuncc and Lady Publike-Wele, 
morality by John Roo, 5 

Lord Lieutenants to exercise supervision, 
12, 14; granted license to Earl of Leices- 
ter's players, 15 

Lord Mayor's shows. Dramatic character of 
many, 217 

Lord Protector's company at Leicester, 27 

Lord Secretary's company of players af 
Leicester, 26 

Lordship of Finsbury, set Liberty of Fins- 


Louis XI IT assumed responsibility for death 

of Marquess d'Ancre, 113 
Lowins apologised t" Herbert, 135 
l ■: Subjoct, by Fletcher, licensed by Buc, 

reformed by Herbert, allowed to King's 

Company, 8a 
Luther. .1 character in a play, 6 

Lydd, Visits of players to, 23 
Lyly, John, hoped for the Mastership, 62 n; 
his Pappe with a Halehett, 01 

Magnetic Lady, Jonson's, Players made 
inter[H)!ations in, 78; licensed, 81; made 
trouble for Herbert 126 

Maid of Honor, The, by Massinger, Political 
significance of, 124 

Maid's Tragedy, The, 134 

Maidstone. Mayor of, refuses to permit 
licensed players to perform, 71; re- 
buked by Sir Henry Herbert, 71-72 

Malcontent, The, of the Chapel Children, 
taken by the King's Men, 83 

Maria, the Infanta, Project of marriage of, 
with Prince Charles, 118 

Marlowe, Christopher, arrested killed, 06 

Marquis of Dorset's company licensed, 10 

Martin Marprelate Controversy, 17, 176; 
treated on the stage, 55; first case of 
rigorous interference by the authorities, 
91; plays against Martin refused a license, 
91; resulted in appointment of censorship 
commission. 177 

Martinists ridiculed on the stage, 17; violent 
dramatic attacks on the, 91 

Mary, Queen, Proclamation of, in 1553, 5, 
io-ii, 152; anti-Protestant plays on ac- 
cession and marriage of, 10 

Mary's, Princess, players in Leicester, 26 

Massinger, Philip, in trouble over Believe 
as You List, 122-24; licensed as revised, 
123; Gardiner on political elements in, 
123-24; protected by Pembroke, 124; 
difficulty about licensing King and Subject 
of, 129 

Massinger's Believe as You List refused a 
license by Herbert, 81 

Master of the King's Games of Bears, Bulls 
and Dogs, Royal patents to, 46 

Master of the King's Revels, 2; official 
administration of the censorship, 3; 
place of the, in general history of censor- 
ship, 16; patent issued to in 1581, 
16-17, 35, 51. 163; authority of, estab- 
lished slowly, 17, 18; power of, in and 
about London, 18, 35, 52; active under 
Stuart rule, 18-19; gave indirect royal 
authorization, 35; established right in 
country at large, 35; licensed companies 
to travel, 35, 40, 53, 70; rights granted to, 
reserved, 38; extended exercise of his 
powers, 39, 45, 55; had power to license 
playing- places, 43. 73-74; chapter on 
the, 44-88; sold licenses, 44, 211; 
licensed traveling players, 43, 70, 72 ; 
tracing development of power of, difficult. 

46; first appeared under Henry VII, 
46-47; sir I bonus Cawarden made 
permanent Master in 1545, 47; powers 
conferred in patent, 47; busied solely with 
court entertainments, 48; reforms in 

Office of, recom mended, 48-49; exam- 
ined companies and plays for approval, 
49; natural person to exercise liicnsing 
power, 50; Edmund Tilney appointed, 
So; given power to summon players, 
51-S2; to license plays, players and play- 
houses, 52, 55; held responsible by 
Council for regulation of theaters in 
London, 54; order sent to in 1598, 58; 
payments to, by Henslowe, 59, 61; ex- 
ercised a general jurisdiction 60; re- 
lations of , with Privy Council, 60; position 
of, strengthened, 61; commission to Sir 
George Buc as, 62-63; authority granted 
to, in patents, 63-64; Sir John Astley 
and Ben Jonson granted reversion of 
Mastership, 64-65; Sir Henry Herbert 
recognized as, 65; fee of, 67; higher 
authorities acted through, or over head of, 
68; power of licensing ill defined, 68; 
court on jurisdiction of, 69; case of 
Herbert at Maidstone, 71-72; censor- 
ship and licensing plays most important 
function of, 53, 73, 76, 82; had right to 
suppress a play, 77; methods of censoring, 
77-78; fee of, for licensing a play, 79; 
new source of revenue for, in licensing the 
printing of plays, 64, 84; licensed books 
of poetry, 85; arguments for power of, 
over licensing for the press, 86-87; busi- 
ness of, extensive and profitable, 87; 
income, 88; expurgations of, in surviving 
MSS., 89; character of men chosen for 
office of, 89; concern of, not a moral, but a 
practical political one, 89; "reformations " 
of Sir Thomas Mure, 94-95; case of 
William Beeston's Company's defiance 
of the, 131-32; rise of the, 177; licensing 
power of, established by IS92, 179; reg- 
ulated performances, 197; Prynne's 
attack on the, 221; all licenses of, abol- 
ished, 226. See also Buc, Sir G.; Revels 
Office; Tilney, E. 

Master of the Revels' Servants at Leicester, 

Master of the Rolls a Justice of the Peace 
in Middlesex, 54; orders sent to, by 
Privy Council, 145, 17s 

Muster of St. Catherine's, 146 

Masterless vagabonds, 1; society had no 
hold on the, 22; subject to severe pen- 
alties, 24 

Masters of the Chapel Children authorized to 
take up singing boys, 32, 48, 51 

Maurice of Orange, caused execution of John 
of Barnevelt for treason, 114 

May-game, A seditious, 6 

Mayors of towns expected to supervise li- 
censing, 13; to determine standing of 
wandering players, 27 


Merchant Taylors' Company, Court of the, 

refused an annuity to Tilney to stop 

licensing plays, 56 
Metropolitan district, Divided jurisdiction 

over the, 145-46 
Middlesex and Surrey, Justices of the Peace 

of, 18; orders of Privy Council sent to, 

58, 145, 175, 210; to stop plays, 184; 

censured by the Lords for not enforcing 

orders, 103-04 
Middleton, Edward, brought before the 

Council, 121 
Middleton, Thomas, author of Game at 

Chess, "shifted out of the way," 120; 

devised a Lord Mayor's show, 217; chro- 

nologer of London, 217 
Midsummer Night, 1592, Precautions taken 

against disorders feared on, 145-46, 

Militia ordered to suppress all plays, 225 
Minstrels the predecessors of the professional 

actors, 22 
Monasteries, dissolved, Liberties precincts 

of, 144 
Money bond required of players as surety, 

Monopolies, Economic system of, applied 

to the stage, 1 
Monopoly, Patents of, granted to favored 

persons, 39, 197 
Monster Lately Found Out, by Rawlidge, 

163, 217 
Monteagle, Lord, in the Essex conspiracy, 98 
Moralities common in 1485, 4 
Morality, A sort of Roman Catholic con- 
troversial, performed at Sir John York's 

house, 113 
Morality, Puritan care for, in London, 16 
More, Sir Thomas, as represented in the play, 

MS. Herbert, 66 n 
Munday, Anthony, devised a Lord Mayor's 

show, 217 
Municipal officers in towns, Supervision by, 14 
Municipality, see London 
Murray, Sir James, delated Ben Jonson to 

the King for writing against the Scots, 

102, 103 
Mysteries and moralities common, 4; cycles of, 

presented by trades guilds, 22; lawful, 24 

Nash, Thomas, Imprisonment of, for his 
Isle of Dogs, 97-98; complains that 
players are persecuted, 184 

New Romney, Visits of players to, 23 

Newcastle, Players at, arrested and whipped, 

Newington precinct under Justices of Surrey, 


Newington Theater, the, Location of, 143; 

Lords prohibited plays at, 17s; plays 

ordered at, 182 
Nicolini, Francis, and his company, Warrant 

to, 70 
Noblemen, kept companies of players, 4, 

22-23, 26; players of, licensed, 10; power 
of licensing taken from, 28, 35, 38; com- 
panies of, transferred to members of the 
royal family, 36, 38; licenses of, recog- 
nized by local officials in spite of law, 
40-41; not to be attacked in plays, 90, 
97; satire on, censored, III, 124 

North, Lord President of the, ordered by 
Privy Council to suppress players and 
plays, 11-12, 25; letter to, from Sir 
Robert Dudley, asking license for his 
players, 15, 26 

Northampton's, Marquis of, company at 
Leicester, 27 

Northbrooke's Treatise, 159, 219 

Northumberland's, Earl of, company of 
players, 22; appear at Leicester, 27 

Nottingham, Earl of. Lord Admiral, urged 
that Edward Alleyn be allowed to finish 
his theater, 190 

Oaths, Effort of censor to excise all, 90; 

care in expunging, 111-12, 118; an 

offense to Herbert, 124; censoring of, 

128-29; condemnation of, satirized, 133 
Official buildings, Players' rights to perform 

in, bought off, 40 
Oldcastle, Sir John, Shakspere's use of the 

name in Henry IV, 96, 188 
Orange, Prince of, as presented in Bar- 

neveli, 115, 116 
Order of expulsion of players, 163-64, 220; 

probable date of, 164, 172-73 
Ordinance of suppression rigorously enforced, 

Ordinary of the Diocese, the bishop sitting 

in ecclesiastical court, 8; given power of 

licensing plays, 12, 13 
Oxford, Scholars of, that go a-begging, 30 
Oxford's, Earl of, company of players, 22; 

allowed to play at the Boar's Head, 194 

Painter, William, Reversionary grant of 
Master's office to, 65 n 

Pammachius, anti-papal tragedy, performed 
at Christ's College, Cambridge, 6 

Papacy, Dramas in support of the, 6 

Papists performing interludes inciting to 
breach of the peace to be imprisoned, 
7; James I on the conversion of, 20 

Pappe with a Hatehett by Lyly, 01 

Paradoxes by J. Donne, Licensing of, for 
printing, brought Herbert to the Star 
Chamber, 85 

Paris Garden, Bear-baitings and bull-baitings 
in, 46; Manor or Liberty of, 143; The 
Swan in, 143; under Justices of Surrey, 
145; disaster at, 163, 165-66, 175, 210 

Parish organizations in Blackfriars and White- 
friars, 145 

Parish plays, 22 

Parker's, Sir Henry, company of players, at 
Leicester, 26 

Parliament, Act of Uniformity 1540 (2 and 
3 Edward VI), 9; 1559 (1 Elizabeth, cap. 


a), 13; Act against profane use of holy 
names in plays, 10; lirst statute of first, 
of Charles I, on abuses on Sunday, 20; 
Puritan clement in, demanded restriction 
of players, 36, 222; performances in spite 
of, 224-25 

Parliament, the Long, Edict of, against 
Stage-plays, 222-23; new orders of, 
2:4; adopts extreme measures, 225-27 
oa the Jesuit, Pamphlet by, 92 

Patents, Licensing or dispensing, granted by 
the Crown as favors, or sold, 45; for 
playing-places, 153-54, 206 

Patents, royal, History of, 33-30; system of, 
developed, 36; second, sometimes granted, 
38; result of system of, 38-39; other 
forms of license than, granted, 39; supe- 
rior even to the Statutes, 45, 148, 155; 
provisos in, 63-64; Prynne declares un- 
constitutional, 221; abolished by Parlia- 
ment, 226; tabulated, 231-34 

Patient Grissel. Payment to printer to stay 
printing of, 80 

Paul's Boys, Play by, on the captivity of the 
Pope, 6; suppression of the, 92; acted 
undisturbed, 195. See also Children of 

Pedlars and petty chapmen, Patent for licens- 
ing, under James 1, 46 

Pembroke, Earl of. Lord Chamberlain, 39 n; 
action of, on Game at Chess, 121; catered 
to by Massinger, 123-24 

Pembroke and Montgomery, Earl of, Lord 
Chamberlain, 39, 85; dispute with Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, 214 

Pembroke's, Earl of, servants, 39 

Penalties, Severity of, supposed necessary by 
a brutal age, 29 

Percy, Sir Charles, in the Essex conspiracy, 98 

Percy, Sir Jocelyn, in the Essex consipracy, 98 

Performances, Sacrilegious and libellous, 
severely punished, 108; unchaste and 
seditious, not tolerated, 158; continued 
in the Liberties and in inn-yards, 175; 
order limiting number of, 192; regulated 
by Master of the Revels, 197; City 
forced to tolerate dangerous, 198; in spite 
of Parliament, 224, 225 

Pericles, Profit on performance of, given to 
Herbert, 76 

Perkvn, John, in Earl of Leicester's com- 
pany, 33 

Personalities, offensive, Effort to suppress, 134 

Persons of high rank not to be attacked in 
plays, 60, 90, 97 

Philaster, of Beaumont and Fletcher, Her- 
bert's fussy alterations in, 128-29 

Philip and Mary, Marriage of, 10 

Phillippes, Augustine, in the King's Men, 
36; on the performance of Richard II 
for the Essex conspirators, 98-99 

Pit, Rabble frequenters of the, 3 

Plague, Regulations for playing in time of, 
34. 37. 38, 211-14; plays forbidden on 
account of the, 58, 68, 150, 152, 155; 

favors shown players in time of, 76, 214; 
increase of the, 156, 160, 161; stops per- 
formances, 162, 167, 168, 175; answer to 
rules proposed by Queen's players for 
plague, time, 173, 174, 211-12; severe, 
181, 182, 184 

Players and playhouses, Standing of, in the 
eyes of the law, 1, 3 

Players, Favored companies of, granted 
royal patents, 1, 35; a company of, 
suppressed in the North, n, 25; letter 
on behalf of the Earl of Leicester's, 15; 
various sorts of companies of, 22, 23; 
professional, kept by noblemen, 4, 22-23; 
exempt from sumptuary law, 23; fre- 
quently traveled, 23-24, 26-27; licensed 
by the Crown, 28, 45; companies of, 
traveled under royal or noble protection, 
31, 32, 36; less personal relation of, with 
patron, 31; sometimes purchased name 
and license, 31 n; licensed under the 
Great Seal, 33-34, 155; royal license 
valuable to noblemen's players, 34; 
secured many privileges in London 
through royal favor, 35, 49, 150, 160; 
monopoly granted to favored, 36, 38-39, 
150; noblemen's and London, trans- 
ferred to royal family, 36, 38; monopoly 
of patents to, not absolute, 39; rights 
of, to perform bought off, 40, 41, 70, 72; 
licensed by Master of the Revels, 45; 
rehearsed before him, 49; company of, 
suppressed, 58, 189; enjoying royal 
patents obliged to obey the Master, 59, 
61, 63-64; not to perform without license, 
65, 158; annual licenses to traveling, 70; 
all, must have license from the Master, 
73; none severely punished, 92 ; in trouble 
because of their impertinence, 108; cen- 
tralization of power over, 148-49; chief 
reason for admission of, into London, 
149-50; a nobleman's company com- 
mitted, 151; attitude of London Cor- 
poration toward traveling, 152; opposi- 
tion to, in the City high, 153; must be 
authorized by Mayor and Aldermen, 158; 
driven to the Liberties, 158; expelled 
and playhouses pulled down, 163; 
favored by Privy Council, 160, 162-63, 
164; letter to suppress all, 169; excluded 
from London, 170; powerful influence 
at command of, 188; only two companies 
of, allowed, 191-92; sheltered by royal 
protection, 197; taxation of, for benefit 
of sick and poor, 206-7; mentioned as 
rogues and vagabonds in the statutes, 
221; legal status of worthy, 222; edict of 
Long Parliament against, 222-23; to 
be arrested and punished, 224-25; status 
of vagabond imposed on all, 226; act in 
defiance of the law, 224, 225, 227; peti- 
tion Parliament, 227-28. See also 
Actors, Licensing of players 

Players, Strolling, arrested, 12; unlicensed, 
called rogues and vagabonds, 21, 29; 


needed a license for protection, 23, 27; 
liable to penalties as " masterless men," 
24, 25-26; standing of, left to local 
authorities, 27; two forms of license for, 
27; penalties for " wandering abroad," 
28-29, 221-22; not vagabonds in eyes of 
the law, 30-31; situation of, radically 
altered under Puritan domination, 31; 
licensed by the Master, 45 

Players' pass, A, issued to members of King's 
Company, 30, 69 

Playhouses, Licensing of, 73; must be 
approved by Mayor and Aldermen, 158, 
207; order of the Council to reduce the 
number of the, 191-92; frequented by a 
better class, 216; to be disabled, 225, 
226. See also Theaters 

Playing-cards, Monopoly in, 39 

Playing places, Fixed, 35; authorized, 38J 
national regulation of, 42-43; authorized, 
specified in patents, 197. See also 

Plays, Regulation of, by municipal and 
shire authorities, 2; licensing of, 4-21; 
content of, censored, 4-5, 158; reported 
edict of 1533 against, not authentic, 5; 
used by opponents of the royal policy, 
6; first legislation concerning content of, 
7; use of, for proper ends approved, 
7-8; English, prohibited for three months, 
8-9; royal proclamation against, 9; 
censoring of, 9-10; a source of sedition, 
10; troubles with, frequent, 11; ordered 
*s"nppressed through Justices of the Peace, 
11-12; forbidden in summer of i557i 12; 
prohibited for a season by Elizabeth, 14; 
rigorous steps to suppress offensive, 18, 
91-92, 176-77; commission on, 18, 91 ; 
unfit matter in, suppressed, 19, 91; pro- 
hibition of, on the Sabbath, 20-2 1, 158, 164; 
all, prohibited by Puritans, 21, 152, 164; 
given by actors in good standing, 22; 
examined by Master of the Revels, 49; 
six selected for giving at Court, 49; for- 
bidden in London, 58, 68, 91, 108; all, 
must be licensed by the Master, 73; copies 
of, left with the Master, 78; fee for li- 
censing, 79. 81; licenses given to act, not 
to print, 79-80; objection of players to 
publication of, 79-80; revival of old, re- 
quired Master's approval, 81, 82, 118, 124; 
greater care in supervision of old, 82, 124; 
stealing, prevented by the Master, 82-83, 
urgent reason for not printing, 83; in- 
herited from Queen's Company confirmed 
to William Beeston's Company, 83; print- 
ing, without consent of companies owning, 
caused trouble, 85; many uncensored 
before Herbert's time, 134; arguments 
against, 156-57; lawful, honest and comely 
use of, allowed, 157; provision for licens- 
ing, 157-58; forbidden at the universities, 
178-79; public demand for, 195; all 
stopped five days before death of Eliza- 
beth, 196; edict of the Long Parliament 

against, 222-23; new orders against, 
224, 225-27 

Playwrights, Prominent, devised the Lord 
Mayor's shows, 217 

Poetaster, Jonson in trouble because of the, 

Political and historical dramas. Attitude of 
the censor, Buc, towards, 11 5-16 y 

Political and religious questions in plays") 
fairly suppressed, 133-34 -J 

Political liberty, Eulogy of, in Barnevelt, 117 

Political or personal allusions caused trouble 
to two distinguished poets, 105 

Political unrest reflected in the drama, 97-9^ 

Politics, Factional not general, touched on 
in the drama, 135 

Poor, Contributions for the, 158, 183, 190, 
206-7; admission fees forfeited to the, 226 

Poor Laws, The memorable, of Elizabeth, 
1, 24, 27; subsequent, altered licensing 
system, 28 

Pope, English comedies in contempt of the, 
reported by the Venetian Ambassador, 8 

Porter, Endymion, appeals to the King 
against Herbert's censoring of D'Ave- 
nant's Wits, 127 

Press, licensing for the, Revels Office makes 
efforts to continue, 86; arguments show- 
ing jurisdiction claimed, 86-87 

Priests railed on in an interlude, 7 

Prince's Company, The, 37; patent of 1606 
granted to, 63, 232; authorized to play in 
Rosseter's theater, 199, 233; acted Amends 
for Ladies in, 201; sought license for 
playhouse at Lincoln's Inn Fields, 204 

Printing, Edict concerning licensing of, 9; 
a method of arousing revolt, 10; Master 
assumes licensing of, 84; Lord Chamber- 
lain exercises authority over, 85 

Private theater, Burbage's, 186 

Privy Council, given censorship of printing 
and of plays, 9-10; vigilant, n; orders 
of, against players and pipers, 12; gave 
the Ordinary the power of licensing plays, 
12; reserved supreme authority, 13, 15, 
19; on plays in London, 17, 52, 150; 
devised a commission of Church, City 
and Crown, 18, 55, 91; orders of, to 
Lord Shrewsbury, 25; grants open war~ 
rants to Earl of Sussex's players and to 
Lord Strange's company, 34; secured 
privileges for favored players, 35, 153, 
159, 160; ordered London Council in 
play matters, 42 ; suspended performances 
in London, 54, 55, 58, 91, 150, 189, 210; 
did not recognize the Master, 58, 60; 
transmitted orders through the Master, 
67, 68; play concerning the Marquess 
d'Ancre stopped by, 68, 113; perform- 
ances in Lent prohibited by, 75, 150, 160; 
charges of, against T. Nash, 07; stopped 
performances at The Rose, 98; co:n- 
plaint of, against players at The Curtain, 
100; report of action taken on Game J/ 
Chess, 120; stopped a play on the torture 


of the English at Ambovna, 122; order 
of, against players of The Red Hull for 
libel, 130-31; orders issued by, regarding 
disorders in the Liberties, 145-46,170-8:; 
friendly to the drama, 140; various 
reasons of, for suppressing plays, 150; 
city authorities agreed with the, 150; some- 
times strongly opposed to plays, 151; 
refused to attend Lord Mayor's feast on 
account of the plague, 156; ordered 
resumption of performances, 160, 162-63, 
164; forbade performances on account of 
plague, 157, 101, 162, 175; power of, 
to get players admitted to the City, 167; 
order of, for reverence of God and en- 
couragement of Queen's bearbaiters, 
177; acquired the Puritan attitude, 178; 
order sent to the Middlesex Justices, 
180-81; for reopening of The Rose, 
1S1-82; on Blackfriars Theater, 186; 
prohibit plays and order theaters de- 
molished, 187; order of, reducing number 
of theaters and of performances, 18, 60, 
igo-02; not enforced, 192; censure 
Mayor and Justices, 162, 193-94; lax- 
ness of, in enforcing orders, 194-95 

Proctors of the Court of Probate defamed by 
players at The Red Bull, 130-31 

Profanity, see Oaths 

Protestant cause, Stage a weapon in the, 6, 10 

Protestant dramas written by those high in 
authority, 8 

Protestantism, Henry's reaction against, 7; 
extreme, approved by Edward VI, 8; 
moderate, in ascendant under Elizabeth, 

Provost Marshal for London and adjoining 
counties, 178, 189; commission of, 
revoked, 183; Captain Bethan appointed, 

Prynne, William, Hislriomastix, 76, 219, 
220; mutilation and suffering of, in the 
pillory, 134; complaint of, against 
Sunday plays, 210; on players as rogues 
and vagabonds, 221; not all Puritans as 
rigorous as, 222; view of, became law, 

Public prayers, Coaches disturb, 202, 209 

Puncteus, John, and his company, Warrant 
to, 70 

Puritan, a broad term, 215; political party 
called, 216; ideas spread among the 
populace, 217; attack on the drama, 
159-60, 197-98, 218-20; general line of 
argument, 219; summary in title-page of 
Prynne's lli^tri.>-\lastix, 220; movement 
appreciated by the modern mind, 229 

Puritan prohibition relaxed, 71, 194-95; 
more stringent, 158; extreme, became 
law, 226 

Puritan victory, Chapter on the, 215-30 

Puritanism and the royal government, 
Conflict between, 2; development of, 
215; London a great center of, 216; 
reaction against, 230 

Puritans inflamed with hatred of the Court 
2; final victory of the, 2, 3; have majority 
in Parliament, [9; situation altered 
under, 31; desired to abolish all players, 
36, 22i; punishment of offending, 134; 
the stage anathema to the, 135; result of 
struggle of City with Privy Council 
unsatisfactory to the, 175; opponents of 
the court party, 215; attitude of, towards 
statutes regulating players, 220-21; laws 
passed by, really suppressed plays, 223; 
had the better part, 230 

Queen's Company, The, patented 1603, 37, 
231-32; receives a second patent in 
1609, 63, 232; another company of the 
same name at The Cockpit, 83; in trouble 
in 1637, 129; plays Brome's English 
Moor, 129 

Queen's Majesty's Players, The, appear in 
Leicester, 27, 32; a new company organ- 
ized in 1583, 32, 166-169; accused of 
abuse of special privileges, 41, 174; 
petition of, for leave to play, 170; reply 
of the City to, 171-74; rogues, but for 
Her Majesty's favor, 173, 221; proposal 
of, for plague rule, 173, 211 

Queen's Men, see Queen's Majesty's 

Queen's Servants, see Queen's Majesty's 

Rainolde's Overthrow of Stage-Playes, 219 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, granted a patent for 
licensing taverns and wine-selling, 45; 
fate of, called up, by seeing Bamevelt, 115 

Rankins' Mirrour of Monsters, 219 

Ratcliffe, Precinct of, Lord Wentworth in 
charge of, 146 

Rawlidge's Monster Lately Found Out, 163, 
217, 219 

Recreations, Lawful Sabbath, 20 

Red Bull, Come See a Wonder acted at the, 
77; players at, arraigned for libeling 
aldermen and proctors, 129-30; appren- 
tices plan to pull down the, 218; Wit 
Without Money acted at, 225; players at, 
through bribing officer, 227; authorized 
theater of the Queen's Company, 232 

Red Bull company forbidden to play Shak- 
spere's plays, 83; arrested several times, 

Reformation, Controversies following the, 
illustrated, 1; spirit of revolt aroused by 
the, 5 

Refutation of Heywood's Apology for Actors, 

Regulation of plays. National, 4-43; by 
local civil and ecclesiastical authorities, 
4-5; irksome in London, 158; rigid 
enforcement of, 159; history of, 198 

Regulations, Maze of conflicting, 3; numerous 
possibilities of evasion of, 41; non-en- 
forcement of, 194, 195 

Religion, Questions of, not allowed in plays, 


15, go, 92; the censor's care for, no, 


Religious controversy, Offensive representa- 
tion of, 92 

Remedies for Articles proposed by Queen's 
players, 173, 174, 212 

Respublica, anti-I'rotcstant morality, repre- 
sented at Court of Mary, 10 

Restrictions, Laxness in enforcing, 194-95 

Revels Office, Reports from officials of, on 
its reorganization, 48; germ of censorship 
developed in, 49; in an unsettled state, 
47, 49; reorganization of the, 50; powers 
of, 51; the workmen of the, 51; authority 
of, outside the Court, 61; extension of 
the powers of the, 62, 63; under Buc, 64; 
"Declaration of the Ancient Powers of 
the Office," 65; organization of, 67; ad- 
ministration of, lax under Buc, 85; 
efforts of, to continue licensing for the 
press, 86; Bill for licensing the stage left 
no authority to, 88. See also Buc, Sir G.; 
Master of the Revels; Tilney, E. 

Rich, Lord, ordered by Privy Council to 
investigate a play, n 

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, see Richard III 

Richard 11, Performance of, arranged by the 
Essex consiprators, 98-99 

Richard III, Company of players of, 22 

Rights under patents, Buying off the exer- 
cise of, 57 

Rogues, Definition of, 14 Elizabeth, cap. 5, 
29-30; branded with an R, 29; Queen's 
Players rogues but for Her Majesty's 
favor, 173, 221; large numbers of, 1, 
178; all stage-players to be considered, 

Roman-Catholic religion, Players allowed 
greater freedom for attacks on the, 92; 
reference to, censored, no 

Roo's, John, morality of Lord Governaunce 
and Lady Publike-Wele, 5 

Rope-dancing licensed by Herbert, 70, 72; 
at The Fortune, 75 

Rose theater, The, outside the city limits, 
licensed by Tilney, 57; Lord Strange's 
Company at, 79; Nash's Isle of Dogs at, 
97; performances at, stopped, 98; in 
the Liberty of the Clink, 143; petitions 
to reopen, 181-82; new house in place of, 

Rosseter, Philip, Patent under Great Seal 
issued to, to build a playhouse in Black- 
friars, 198-99, 232; Chief Justice Coke 
decides against, 199; builds and uses 
theater, 200-1 

Royal power. Gradual extension of, 2 

Royalty, Passages reflecting on, censored, 

Sabbath, Puritan objection to sports on the, 
20; orders of James I and Charles I 
regarding, 20; libellous performance on 
the, severely punished, 108; no plays al- 
lowed on, 163, 164, 175, 192, 209; Lords 

more zealous for the, than the Lord Mayor, 

Sacke/ull of N ewes, Performance of, at Boar's 

Head prevented, 12 
St. Catherine's precinct, 146, 212 
St. Giles in the Fields under Justices of 

Middlesex, 145, 180; to be included in 

bills of mortality, 212 
St. Martin's, Precinct of, Bailiff of West- 
minster to preserve order in the, 146 
St. Saviour's parish, Players to contribute 

for poor of, 60, 189, 207; location of, 143; 

appealed to Council for suppression of 

playhouses, 189 
St. Thomas the Apostle, Seditions rising at 

performance of religious interlude of, 7 
Salisbury, An ex-priest burned at, 7 
Sanctuary, Privileges of, in Blackfriars and 

Whitefriars, 147; all rights of, abolished, 


Sappho and Pluio, Veiled symbolism dis- 
covered in, 91 

Savoy, Liberty of, a pretended privileged 
place west of the City, 148 

Schelling. F. E., on the Jonson and Chapman 
letters, 104 

Sclwole of Abuse, by Gosson, 159, 209 

Scotch, Satirical reference to the, in East- 
ward Hoe, caused Jonson's imprison- 
ment, 101-2 

Scripture, Interpretation of, not to be meddled 
with in plays or interludes, 8 

Seamans Honest Wife censored by H. Her- 
bert, 78, 124 

Second and Third Blast of Retrait, 219 

Second Mayden's Tragedy, The, censored by 
G. Buc, 78; Buc's expurgations from, 
109-12, 134; plot of, 109, 115 

Sedition, Letter of Henry VIII on, 6-7; Act 
against, 7; danger of, 8, 13; edict against, 
9, io-ii, 152; censoring concerned with 
suppressing, 13; censoring for, in Lon- 
don, 16; sound speeches against, in Sir 
Thomas More, 03; government guarding 
against, 95; fear of condemnation for, 


Sejanus, Jonson in trouble because of, 103, 

Self-government, Overriding the rights of 
local, 2, 198 

Servants of the Master of the Revels, 35 

Seyle, Henry, Herbert received money from, 
for allowing books of verses by Lord 
Brooks and Cowley, 85 

Shakspere, William, high in prosperity and 
royal favor, 31, 99; royal patent to, 36- 
37; plays of, forbidden to the Red Bull 
company, 83; asserted to have written 
a set of alterations and additions to Sir 
Thomas More, 93; Sir John Oldcastle 
falsely attributed to, 96; not restrained 
by the censorship, 135; not concerned 
with controversial purpose, 136; years 
during which he was rising to preeminence, 


Slukspere's audience, Endeavor fo secure 
some light on, i, 3 

Slukspere's Com puny, 33, 06; patent issued 
to, as the King's Men, 36-37; play 
Richard II for the Essex conspirators, 

Shakspere'a Henry IV, 06 

Shakspere'a Richard II, 0S-00 

Sheriffs, of London, stopped play by appren- 
tices at the Whitcfriars, 112; elected 
by the Common Council, 138; afraid to 
enforce writs in Whitcfriars, 14S; ordered 
to suppress all plays, 225; to demolish 
play-houses, 226 

Shirley, Sir Thomas, to preserve order in 
Whitcfriars, 146 

Shirley's, James, Young Admiral, warmly 
approved by Herbert, 127 

Shoreditch, Precinct of, Lord Wentworth to 
preserve order in, 146, 212 

Short Treatise Against Stage Plays, 219, 

Showmen, All sorts of, licensed by the Master, 

Shrewsbury, Earl of, Lord President of the 
North, ordered to suppress a company 
of players, 11, 25; Earl of Leicester to, 
on behalf of his players, is 

Shrewsbury's, Earl of, company of players, 23 

Siege of Rhodes, The, by D'Avenant, pro- 
duced at Rutland House, 229 

Singleton's, Hugh, Orders appointed to be 
executed, 163 

Sir Giles Goosecap named as cause of Jonson 
and Chapman's troubles, 104 

Sir John Oldcastle falsely attributed to Shak- 
spere, 96 

Sir John Van Olden Barnexelt, see Barnevelt 

Sir Thomas More the earliest manuscript 
showing Tilney's "reformations" for 
public performance, 55; description of, 

Slander, Fear of condemnation for, 133 

Sly, William, in the King's Men, 36 

Southampton, Earl of, a daily frequenter of 
the playhouses, 3 

Southwark, Borough of, 140, 141-42; 
grants of Edward III and IV, 141; never 
a part of London City, 142; theaters 
outside the, 142; complaint of inhabitants 
of, to Privy Council, 175; serious tumult 
in, 170-80; playhouses in, ordered de- 
molished, 188; to be included in bills of 
mortality, 212 

Southwark players, Complaint of Bishop of 
Winchester against the, 8 

Spain, King of, scoffed at on the stage, 92; 
public feeling against, 118-20 

Spanish Tragedy, The, belonging to the Lord 
Chamberlain's Company, appropriated by 
the Chapel Children, 83 

Spanishe Viceroy, The, acted by King's Com- 
pany without Herbert's license, 77, 122 

Spencer, an ex-priest, turned interlude- player, 
burned at Salisbury, 7 

Sporfs on the Sabbath, Proclamation of James 
I forbidding, 20; those allowed in Book 
of Sports, 20 

Stage, Light on the history of the, 2; bitter 
attacks on, in Elizabethan era, 3; a 
dangerous weapon in religious disputes, 5 

Stage-Players Complaint, 222 

Star Chamber, Herbert summoned before 
the, 85; report of trial of Sir Edward 
Dymock and others, 108 

Stationers' Company, Master and Wardens 
of the, gave license for printing, 84; 
ordered not to allow printing of plays 
belonging to companies without their 
consent, 85 

Stationers' Register, Dramas entered in, 
authorized by Revels Office, 64; licensing 
for printing entered in, 70; Buc appears 
as licenser in the, 84; Herbert licensed 
plays entered in, 85 

Statute 1 James I (1604), cap. 7, limited 
licensing power to the Crown, 28, 3s, 4s; 
branded vagabonds, 29; passed, 38; 
obeyed in London, 40; on wandering 
players, 221, 222 

Statute 8 and 9 William III, cap. 27 (1697), 

Statute 14 Elizabeth, cap. 5 (1572), 27, 28, 
221; preamble of, sets forth grave social 
trouble, 29; made little change in con- 
ditions, 31 

Statute 21 James I, cap. 28 (1623-1624), 
abolished all rights of sanctuary, 147 

Statute 34 and 35 Henry VIII the first to 
suggest censorship, 7, 24 

Statute 35 Elizabeth, cap. 7, 28 

Statute 39 Elizabeth (1597-98), cap. 4, 28, 
29, 71, 221 

Statute of 1606 forbidding use of name of 
Deity in plays enforced, 90, 128 

Statutes of Laborers, against vagabonds, 24 

Statutes of the Realm, superseded by royal 
patents, 155 

Strand, Precinct of the. Bailiff of West- 
minster to preserve order in the, 146 

Strange's, Lord, company granted an open 
warrant, 34; payments for licensing of 
plays presented by, at The Rose, 57; 
traveling license granted to, 58, 182, 208; 
payment to Master for, 59; acting at 
The Rose, 79; two members of, im- 
prisoned, 92, 176-77; petition of , to reopen 
The Rose, 181 

Stuart despotism, Development of, i _2 w 
any expression of revolt against, censored, J 
118 -* 

Stubbes, John, punished with loss of right 
hand, 134 

Stubbes', Philip, Anatomic of Abuses, 219 

Suffolk, Games and unlawful assemblies 
prohibited in, 6 

Suffolk's, My Lady of, company of players, 27 

Sunday, Agitation about performances on, 
20, 151, 163, 164, 175, 200-10. See also 


Sal ■ 


Sundays and Holy Days, Plays chiefly used 

on, 157, 200 
Supplies, Passage on raising, censored by 

King Charles from Massinger's King 

and Subject, 120-30 
Sussex's, Earl of, players granted an open 

warrant, 34; traveling license granted to, 

58, 182 
Swan, The, situated in the Liberty of Paris 

Garden, 143; prevention of building of, 

demanded, 183 
Swanston apologized to Herbert, 125; sided 

with Parliamentary party, 223 
Swincrton, Sir John, Supposed representation 

of, in The Hog hath Lost his Pearl, 

Syston, Churchwardens of, paid players not 

to play in the church, 42 

Tale of a Tub, Jonson's, complained against 
by Inigo Jones and censored, 124 

Tamer Tamed, The, revived by King's Com- 
pany, suppressed by Herbert, 82. See 
Woman's Prize 

Taverns and wine-selling, Sir Walter Raleigh 
granted a patent to license, 45 

Taxation of players for sick and poor, 60, 
189, 206 

Taylor's, R., The Hog hath Lost his Pearl 
played at The VVhitefriars, broken up by 
sheriffs, n 2-13 

Temple, the, Question whether, is in the Cify 
or no, never decided, 137 

Theater, The, in Liberty of Holywell, 143; 
erected in 1576, 158; plays at, suppressed 
in Lent, 160; great disorders at, 161, 178; 
Lord Mayor to Privy Council against, 
161; basest sort of people at, 168; Lord 
Mayor requests pulling down of, 169; 
owner of, obdurate before Recorder 
Fleetwood, 169-70; 
performances at, 17s; 
haunt, 183; ordered 
torn down, 188 n 

Theater in VVhitefriars, Permit for erection 
of a, sold by Buc, 64, 73-74 

Theaters, of Shakspere's day, 2; permanent, 
established, 35, 36; various specified, 38; 
royal patents for erection of, 43; order 
for destruction of all, 58, 187-88; licenses 
for established, 64, 73; closed in Lent, 68; 
erected outside jurisdiction of the Lord 
Mayor in neighborhood of disorderly 
resorts, 140; outside Southwark in the 
"Liberties," 142; "in the fields," under 
the Justices of the Peace, 143; in Black- 
friars and VVhitefriars under the Lord 
Mayor, 148; regular, built in the Liberties, 
153. 158-59; attacks on the, 160, 184, 
187, 218-10; nests of crime. 178; severe 
orders against, 170; dangers of, 170, 180, 
181-82; the fixed, outside the City, and 
licensed by the Crown, 197 

Thelwall, Simon, granted Revels Office jointly 
with Herbert, 66 

Lords prohibited 
vagabond persons 
demolished, 187; 

Third University of England, The, treatise by 
Sir George Buc, 63 

Tilney, Edmund, Master of the Revels, 
Office books of, lost, 46; patent issued 
to, to hold in successive reigns, 50; author 
of The Flower of Friendship, 50; special 
commission granted to, 51; empowered to 
take workmen for the Office, 51; opposed 
by Corporation of London, 52; claiming 
authority throughout the Kingdom, 53; 
commission of, to a company of players, 
53; not active in London till 1589, 54; 
member of censorship commission, 55; 
authority of, under Queen's patent, 56; 
efforts to raise a "consideration" for, 
56-57; received license fees for plays from 
Henslowe, manager of The Rose, 57, 79; 
not recognized by the Privy Council, 
58; succeeded by Sir George Buc, 62-63; 
licensed established theaters, 57, 64, 73; 
censorship exercised by, on Sir Thomas 
More, 93; his "reformations," 94-95; 
summoned by Walsingham to select Her 
Majesty's Players, 166. See also Buc; 
Herbert ; Master of the Revels 

Town halls, Use of, as playhouses, authorized 
in patents, 43 

Town officials could buy off players' rights 
to perform, 40 

Town players, Number of, diminishing, 31 

Tragedies, romantic, and tragi-comedies, 
"Reformation" administered to, by Buc, 

Tudor and Stuart despotism, Development 

of the. 1-2 
Tudor rulers, All the, had royal companies, 

Tudors, Regulation of the drama under the, 

1, 36; censorship under the early, 90 
Tunstall, James, in Earl of Worcester's 

company, 32 
Tyndale's translation of the Bible condemned, 


Unchastity in plays, Censoring of, in London, 

16, 156, 158 
Universities, Plays forbidden at the, 178-79 
Unorthodox views, Officials authorized to try 

those accused of spreading, 8 
Unrest, Economic and social, 1 

Vagabonds, Severe penalties imposed on, 24; 
proclamation of Henry VIII against, 25; 
statute against, 26; severe penalties 
provided for, 28-29; definition of, in 
14 Elizabeth, cap. 5, 20-30 

Venetian Ambassador reports English com- 
edies in contempt of the Pope, 8 

Verneuil, Mademoiselle de, satirized by 
Chapman, 105-6 

Vices in high places, References to, censored 
as disrespectful to the Sovereign, 109 

Walls, The old city, 140-41 

Walsingham, Sir Francis, organized Her 


Majesty's Players, 166; wrote to Lord 

M.ivor in behalf of, 168 
Wanderers engaged >n business, Act for 

licensing, 27; power to license, granted, 

Warrants of protection, 51, 69 
Warton, T., Slip made by, in his History 

of English Poetry, 5 
Warwick. Servants of the Earl of, Privy 

Council require a permit for the, 160; 

license refused the Earl for, 165 
Watermen, Petition of, for reopening of The 

Rose, 181 
Watson's Hekatompathia, Commendatory 

verses prefixed to, by Sir George Buc, 

Wayfaring life, Vivid picture of, in 14 Eliza- 
beth, cap. s, 20-30 

Webster, John, devised a Lord Mayor's 
show, 217 

Wcntworth, Lord, to preserve order in certain 
precincts, 146 

Westminster, City of, 140; Bailiff to pre- 
serve order in, 146; to be included in 
bills of mortality, 212 

Whitechapel, Precinct of, Lord Wcntworth to 
preserve order in, 146 

Whitefriars, Permit for erection of a new the- 
ater in, sold by Buc, 64, 73-74; Taylor's 
Tlie Hog hath Lost his Pearl performed 
at the, 1 1 2- 1 3; authorized theater of 
the Children of the Queen's Revels, 232 

Whitefriars precinct exempt from Lord 
Mayor's jurisdiction, 144; Sir Thomas 
Shirley to preserve order in, 146; a no- 
toriously disreputable district, claimed priv- 
ileges of sanctuary, 147-48; sheriffs afraid 
to enforce writs in, 148; under municipal 
authority, 197 

Whitgift, John, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
55-56, 179 

Whore New Vamped, a libellous play against 
aldermen and proctors, 130-31 

Williams, John, see Cotton, John 

Winchester, Bishop of, complains of the South- 

wark players, 8; disorderly houses under 
the scignorial protection of the, 143 

Winter's Tale revived by King's Players 
without a fee, 81 

Wit Without Money, by Beaumont and 
Fletcher, acted at the Red Bull, 225 

Wither's Abuses Stript and Whipt, 219 

Wits by D'Avenant rigorously censored by 
Herbert, 127; revised by King Charles, 

Wolsey defends himself from attacks in a play, 
5; comedies on release of the Pope acted 
before, 6 

Woman's Prize, or, The Tamer Tamed, by 
Fletcher, Trouble with the, 82, 124-26; 
Herbert's letter to Mr. Knight on, 12s; 
offense of, chiefly profanity, 125; in- 
decency of, 126 

Women, Passages reflecting on the character 
of, censored, 111 

Worcester's, Earl of, company, License 
granted to, 31; taken into the sen-ice of 
Queen Anne, 37; attacked validity of 
commission issued by Tilney, 53-54; 
allowed to play at the Boar's Head, 194 

Workmen of the Revels under special pro- 
tection of the Queen, 51 

Wotton, Sir Henry, Letter of, to Sir Edmund 
Bacon, on arrest of some apprentices for 
playing, 112-13 

Wylson, Robert, in Earl of Leicester's com- 
pany, 33 

Yonge, Richard, Justice of Middlesex, 55, 

York, Duke of, patron of a company, 38 

York, Seditious use of drama in, 6 

York, Sir John, fined and imprisoned for a 
play acted at his house, 113 

York's, Duke of, company, Patent to, 63, 232 

Yorkshire, Earl of Shrewsbury Lord Lieuten- 
ant of, 15 

Young Admiral, by James Shirley, warmly 
commended by Herbert, 127 



Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve was born in New 
York City on October 3, 1877. She received her early edu- 
cation at private schools in her native city, especially at the 
Brearley School, where she was prepared for college. En- 
tering Barnard College, Columbia University, in the autumn 
of 1895, she proceeded to the degree of A.B. in June, 1899. 
During the year 1899- 1900, as Fiske Graduate Scholar in 
Political Science at Columbia University, she pursued courses 
in Medieval History under Professor James Harvey Robin- 
son, in American History under Professor Herbert L. Osgood, 
and in Sociology under Professor Franklin H. Giddings. 
She received the degree of A.M. in June, 1900. For the 
next five years she taught in the Department of English in 
Barnard College, as Assistant and Tutor. From 1905 to 
1908 she devoted herself to graduate study under the Faculty 
of Philosophy in Columbia University, pursuing courses in 
English under Professor William P. Trent, Professor Ashley H. 
Thorndike, Professor George P. Krapp, Professor William W. 
Lawrence, Professor William Allan Neilson, now of Harvard 
University, and Professor John W. Cunliffe, now of the 
University of Wisconsin ; in Old French under Professor 
Henry A. Todd ; and in Comparative Literature under Pro- 
fessor Jefferson B. Fletcher. 


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